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Uncertainty looms in Hong Kong election

The young radicals hope to ride a rising tide of anti-Beijing sentiment and win seats on the Legislative Council. They’re up against both formidable pro-Beijing parties and older pro-democracy ones.

At stake is the power to keep the city’s pro-Beijing leader and his government in check. The pro-democracy camp currently controls 27 of 70 seats, and must keep at least a third of the seats to retain to veto power.

The risk is that new candidates could split the pro-democracy vote, handing pro-Beijing parties more seats and allowing the government to enact controversial and unpopular laws, such as a long-stalled anti-subversion legislation or a Beijing-backed electoral reform package. That in turn could spark a new round of protests and exacerbate widening divisions in the specially administered Chinese city.

Here are views from across Hong Kong’s political spectrum:

THE TEEN PROTEST LEADER

At 19, Joshua Wong is already a veteran of Hong Kong’s democracy battle. The slight, bespectacled activist shot to global prominence two years ago when his high school group

Scholarism helped lead massive protests against Beijing’s plan for restricted elections for the city’s top leader. The protests brought key districts to a standstill for 11 weeks but did not gain concessions.

Now Wong’s new political party, Demosisto, is joining the election fray by fielding 23-year-old Nathan Law, another Occupy protest veteran. A minimum age requirement of 21 prevents Wong himself from running.

Amid rising calls for Hong Kong’s independence, Demosisto proposes a referendum on self-determination for Hong Kong after a transition period to Chinese rule ends in 2047.

“We believe people should gain the right to determine their future,” Wong said.

Wong said recent incidents have added to fears Beijing is undermining Hong Kong’s rule of law and judicial independence. In the most prominent case, five booksellers were detained, including one suspected of being snatched by Chinese security agents and spirited to the mainland.