Many criticisms have been levelled at the first SAR elections, but one thing the authorities cannot be faulted for is the vigorous campaign they conducted to encourage voters to go to the polls. After all the predictions of a low turnout, even torrential rain did not deter well over a million people from casting their vote yesterday. That may not be particularly high compared to some other electorates. But it was notably higher than in 1995. Increasingly, it appears, people recognise that politics is here to stay, playing a real place in their lives and giving them a chance to make their views known. The society in which they live, the environment which surrounds them, the quality of life in general, standards of education and, most crucially, the freedoms which have helped Hong Kong to flourish and cultivate its vibrant and respected image in the world - all are now linked to politics in the broad sense for more than a million people. Those who predicted greater apathy have been proved wrong by voters who clearly understand the role of elections in an evolving, open society - and recognised the historic nature of the first poll since July 1. That will underlie the many post-mortem examinations to come of the results and as to why more people turned out than expected despite the weather. One element that will be looked at is the effect of the offer by the retail chain, Giordano, of a 40 per cent discount to anyone who took along the commemorative card to show that they had voted. This may just have been a piece of clever marketing, but it comes perilously close to using a financial incentive to influence the election. What next - voter air miles? Overall, the first multi-party elections to be held on the soil of the People's Republic of China showed that people in Hong Kong value their right to express their opinion and to choose - limited though that choice and the power of those they elected yesterday will be. By doing so, they have made it less easy to argue, as the Chief Executive has done, that SAR citizens may not be ready for full democracy in the promised 10 years. Naturally, many potential voters were put off by the nature and complexities of yesterday's poll. But those who turned out in higher than expected numbers in the geographical constituencies have given their representatives added legitimacy by the size of the vote. That is likely to lead to a strengthening of Legco's standing, and to raise fresh questions of its relationship with the executive in the months ahead. It may not please those who would wish Hong Kong to be a less political society, but once it has been let out, the electoral genie is hard to put back in the bottle.