Pro-democracy forces won Hong Kong's election: now what?

There are upsets. There are watersheds. There are landslides. And then there is the Hong Kong election that happened on Sunday.

In a vote that showed the largest turnout in the territory's history, candidates who want a more democratic system won 85% of Hong Kong's 452 district council seats, flipping hundreds of those seats from incumbent council members who support the status quo.


Pro-democracy (or "pan-democracy" as they are locally called) officials will now control 17 of Hong Kong's 18 district councils. After the last election, in 2015, they controlled precisely zero of them.

And it's not just a shift in opinion: the results show Hong Kongers are energized and highly motivated. Voter turnout spiked from 1.4 million in 2015 to 2.9 million last weekend.

To be clear, these councils have limited political power: they deal mostly with hyper-local issues like potholes and trash collection (no small set of issues, from this New Yorker's perspective, but I digress). And they have only a sliver of influence over whom Beijing appoints as chief executive.

But the symbolism of the vote was clear: it undermined Beijing's message that the protests are the work of fringe "terrorists." Yes, there are some vandals and provocateurs in the streets, but a vast majority of Hong Kongers clearly support the protests' basic call for more democratic freedoms.

So, here's how some of the key players might be looking at all this now:

Protest movement: Why stop now? Our five demands – including the right to elect our leaders directly, investigations of police brutality, amnesty for those arrested – are as relevant, and well supported, as ever. We've delivered a message, but what was the point if we're not ready to build on this momentum? To the streets!

Beijing: Why give in now? If we do, it will only encourage more people to demand concessions, and firewall or not we can't be sure that Hong Kongers don't have sympathy elsewhere in China. But mainly, the risks of a military intervention against the protesters just got much more dangerous, since people around the world can now see the protests are popular with a vast majority of Hong Kongers. Let's just keep waiting. For now.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam: Dangling by a single phone line. I am going to "seriously reflect" on these results and continue to say conciliatory things – but I better not stray too far from the phone in case Beijing has something important to tell me.

This month, a bipartisan group of legislators in Washington state presented new legislation that could soon become the most comprehensive privacy law in the country. The centerpiece of this legislation, the Washington Privacy Act as substituted, goes further than the landmark bill California recently enacted and builds on the law Europeans have enjoyed for the past year and a half.

As Microsoft President Brad Smith shared in his blog post about our priorities for the state of Washington's current legislative session, we believe it is important to enact strong data privacy protections to demonstrate our state's leadership on what we believe will be one of the defining issues of our generation. People will only trust technology if they know their data is private and under their control, and new laws like these will help provide that assurance.

Read more here.

Let's be clear— the Middle East peace plan that the US unveiled today is by no means fair. In fact, it is markedly more pro-Israel than any that have come before it.

But the Trump administration was never aiming for a "fair" deal. Instead, it was pursuing a deal that can feasibly be implemented. In other words, it's a deal shaped by a keen understanding of the new power balances within the region and globally.

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Betty Liu, Executive Vice Chairman for NYSE Group, explains:

Do election years have an impact on the markets?

So, the short answer is it depends. There's lots of factors that affect the markets, right. But there are some trends. So, the S&P has had its best performance in the year before elections and the second-best performance on election year. Now since 1928, we've had 23 election years and the S&P has had negative returns only four times in that duration.

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For months now, the US has been lobbying countries around the world to ban the Chinese tech giant Huawei from building the 5G data networks that are going to power everything from your cell phone, to power grids, to self-driving cars. US security hawks say allowing a Chinese company to supply such essential infrastructure could allow the Chinese government to steal sensitive data or even sabotage networks. On the other hand, rejecting Huawei could make 5G more expensive. It also means angering the world's second-largest economy.

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The end of the interim in Bolivia? – Mere months after taking over as Bolivia's interim president, Jeanine Áñez has decided that "interim" isn't quite permanent enough, and she now wants to run for president in elections set for May 3. Áñez is an outspoken conservative who took over in October when mass protests over election fraud prompted the military to oust the long-serving left-populist Evo Morales. She says she is just trying to unify a fractious conservative ticket that can beat the candidate backed by Morales' party. (Morales himself is barred from running.) Her supporters say she has the right to run just like anyone else. But critics say that after promising that she would serve only as a caretaker president, Áñez's decision taints the legitimacy of an election meant to be a clean slate reset after the unrest last fall. We are watching closely to see if her move sparks fresh unrest in an already deeply polarized country.

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