As it happened: turnout in Hong Kong Legislative Council election 2021 just shy of 30 per cent; voting extended at 11 stations

  • Participation rate of 29.3 per cent by 9.30pm lower than 2016's 52.6 per cent at same time of day, but race that year launched an hour earlier
  • Total of 153 candidates vying for 90 seats, but only 20 will be filled through direct elections

Topic |   Hong Kong Legislative Council election 2021
Photo: Sam Tsang
Photo: Sam Tsang

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The first election for Hong Kong's legislature under Beijing's "patriots-only" revamp of the system kicked off on Sunday, with 4.5 million people eligible to cast their ballots amid a vastly altered political landscape.

A total of 153 candidates – comprising mostly pro-establishment members, some moderates, individual aspirants and emerging elites from mainland Chinese firms – are vying for 90 Legislative Council seats spanning the geographical, functional and new Election Committee constituencies.

But only 20 seats will be filled by direct elections in the geographical sector.

Officials have launched a last-ditch attempt to drum up voter enthusiasm, with observers expecting dampened sentiment as the opposition camp sits out the race, while authorities warn against covert "foreign agents" seeking to undermine the election.

All eyes are on whether free MTR, tram and bus rides on Sunday, along with polling stations at border checkpoints – an unprecedented arrangement – can boost turnout.

Follow our blog below, as we bring you the latest from the ground.

Reporting by Natalie Wong, Laura Westbrook, Nadia Lam, Sammy Heung, Lo Hoi-ying, Emily Tsang, Cat Wang, Harvey Kong, Jess Ma, Ng Kang-chung, Tony Cheung and Jeffie Lam