Page last updated at 09:35 GMT, Monday, 8 September 2008 10:35 UK

Hong Kong democrats keep veto

Pro-democracy candidate Emily Lau of The Frontier Party celebrates

Hong Kong's pro-democracy camp has won more than a third of the seats in legislative elections, and so retains a key veto over future bills.

The pro-democracy opposition won 23 out of the 30 elected seats in the Legislative Council.

The other 30 seats in the council are not directly elected, but allocated to special interest groups.

The Pro-Beijing camp had expected to make gains at the polls due to a surge of patriotism after the Olympics.

Even some of the candidates on the pro-democracy side had been predicting the worst.

Some were even in tears before the results came in, expecting to lose.

Tougher battle

Hong Kong's political landscape is roughly divided along pro-Beijing and pro-democracy lines.

Since the territory returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997, the pro-democracy parties have fared consistently well in the polls.

But there were fears that, this time, the situation would be different.

Independent candidate Regina Ip with her supporters
Independent candidate Regina Ip was successful in her bid for a seat
Analysts had believed that pro-government parties would make significant gains after the surge in Chinese patriotism sparked by the Beijing Olympics and the Sichuan earthquake.

China had also promised the region some form of universal suffrage by 2017, blunting the democratic camp's campaign.

There were also concerns that issues such as wages, inflation and education may eclipse the desire for democratic reform.

But in the event, the result was not as bad as the democratic camp had expected.

It won 23 seats, compared to the 26 it had previously, but held on to its crucial power of veto - giving it the ability to throw out controversial government plans.

"Hong Kong people still have aspiration for full democracy," said Alan Leong, a member of the opposition Civic Party, who was re-elected. "Those in power can't afford to ignore it".

Other leading pro-democracy figures such as Emily Lau, Audrey Eu and Leung Kwok-hung, also known as Longhair, also fought off stiff competition to keep their seat.

But the pro-China Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB), also did well, scoring huge majorities in some districts.

So too did the independent candidate Regina Ip, who won her seat.

The pro-business Liberal Party saw its leader and deputy leader deposed in voting that leaves the party in disarray.

Hong Kong is ultimately controlled by Beijing, but China mostly leaves the territory to govern itself, designating it a Special Administrative Region.

Under this "one country, two systems" model, Hong Kong citizens enjoy far more rights and freedoms than their mainland neighbours.

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