Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong people went to the polls here Sunday to cast their votes for the 4th term Legislative Council of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).
The polls, beginning at 07:30 a.m. local time (2330 GMT Saturday), will last for 15 hours and close at 10:30 p.m. local time (1430 GMT) Sunday.
A total of 532 polling stations across Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories were open for more than 3.37 million registered electors to cast their ballots.
The outcome of the elections is expected to be announced Mondaymorning.
Chief Executive of HKSAR Donald Tsang cast his vote at the polling station at Raimondi College of the Mid Levels at 09:00 a.m. local time (0100 GMT) Sunday.
"There are more than 200 candidates participating in the elections, setting a new record since Hong Kong's return to the Chinese motherland," Tsang told reporters after casting his vote, adding "it is a good sign for Hong Kong as many of the candidates are young people who want to work for prosperity and social development in Hong Kong."
Tsang said he hoped the electors went out on the polling day and elect their ideal Legislative Councilors in the coming four years amid global financial trouble and work with the HKSAR government for a prosperous, stable and harmonious Hong Kong.
In the elections, a total of 53 lists of 142 candidates are running for 30 seats in five geographical constituencies under the proportional representation formula while another 45 candidates are competing for 16 seats in 16 contested functional constituencies. Fourteen candidates in 12 functional constituencies are returned uncontested.
The 4th term Legislative Council will be composed of 60 members, with 30 to be returned by functional constituencies and another 30by geographical constituencies through direct elections.
Under the Basic Law of the HKSAR of the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong is vested with legislative power since its return to the Chinese motherland in 1997 and the Legislative Council is the legislature of the HKSAR.
The main functions of the Legislative Council are to enact laws, examine and approve budgets, taxation and public expenditure, and monitor the work of the HKSAR government. In addition, the Legislative Council is also given the power to endorse the appointment and removal of the judges of the Court of Final Appealand the Chief Judge of the High Court, as well as the power to impeach the Chief Executive.
The elections of HKSAR's first term Legislative Council were held on May 24, 1998. There were 60 members of the first term Legislative Council from 1998 to 2000, with 30 members returned byfunctional constituencies, 20 by geographical constituencies through direct elections, and 10 by an election committee of 800 elected representatives of the community.
The elections for the second term Legislative Council of the HKSAR were held on Sept. 10, 2000, in which the second term LegCo was composed of 60 members, with 24 members returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections, six members by an election committee, and 30 members by functional constituencies. The term of office of the second term Legislative Council was four years started from Oct. 1, 2000.
The third term Legislative Council was elected on Sept. 12, 2004 when 30 members were returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections and 30 members returned by functional constituencies.
The term of office of the 4th term Legislative Council members will begin on Oct. 1, 2008, and last for four years.