HONG KONG-Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has said the government will “seriously reflect” after local elections saw massive gains by pro-democracy candidates.

Seventeen of the 18 district councils are now controlled by pro-democracy councillors, according to local media. The election, the first since the wave of anti-Beijing protests began, saw an unprecedented turnout of more than 71%.

It is being seen as a stinging rebuke of Ms Lam’s leadership and a show of support for the protest movement.

Hong Kong’s young winners and the scalps they took

Hong Kong has seen months of increasingly violent protests since Ms Lam tried to introduce a controversial bill enabling extradition to China.

In a statement released online on Monday, Ms Lam said the government respected the results.

She said many felt the results reflected “people’s dissatisfaction with the current situation and the deep-seated problems in society”.

The government would “listen to the opinions of members of the public humbly and seriously reflect”, she said.

How did people vote?

Some 2.94 million people voted in the election, compared to 1.4 million in 2015.

Pro-democracy candidates won close to 60% of the total vote on Sunday, but achieved a landslide in terms of seats because of the first-past-the-post system, local media report.

Pro-democracy contenders were victorious in 347 of the 452 district council seats up for grabs; pro-Beijing candidates won 60 seats, while independents - many of them pro-democracy - got 45, they say.

In the last election four years ago, pro-Beijing councillors took 292 seats, while pro-democracy councillors won 116 and independents 23.

What does it mean for Hong Kong?

The territory’s district councillors have little political power and mainly deal with local issues such as bus routes and rubbish collection, so the district elections do not normally generate such interest.

But the councillors also get to choose 117 of their number to sit on the 1,200-member committee that selects Hong Kong’s chief executive, who is then formally appointed by the Chinese government.

The landslide results mean all of those 117 seats are now likely to go to pro-democracy candidates, so they will have a greater influence over that decision, which is set to be made in 2022.