Pro-democracy camp loses seats in Macao assembly

Pro-democracy members of Macao's Legislative Assembly have lost their seats after an election in which they were not allowed to run for being "disloyal" to the government.

Voter turnout in the ballot held on Sunday was 42 percent, the lowest since Macao was returned to China from Portugal in 1999.

Electoral officials said in July that 21 would-be candidates, including pro-democracy members of the assembly, had failed to uphold the Basic Law, which is effectively Macao's constitution. This barred them from running in Sunday's election.

Democracy advocates previously had limited influence, holding a maximum of about four seats. Their absence from the roster of candidates in the poll highlights the hardline stance of the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping with regard to dissidents.

The Legislative Assembly consists of 33 seats. Fourteen members are directly elected by the public, and the remaining 19 are chosen by indirect vote by various professional blocs and appointed by Macao's chief executive.

In Hong Kong, which is under the same "one country, two systems" framework as Macao, the electoral system has been revised in line with orders from Beijing. A committee now determines whether potential candidates will be allowed to run for seats in the Legislative Council there based on the territory's national security law.

The next Legislative Council election in Hong Kong is scheduled for December.