Hong Kong protesters lead in popular choice for TIME Person of the Year 2019

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Riot police detain a protester near Hong Kong Polytechnic University, last month. (Photo: Lam Yik Fei/The New York Times)

With big names like US President Donald Trump, popular HBO series Game of Thrones and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the fray, the pro-democracy protesters have till now garnered most votes from people across the world predicting the TIME Person of the Year 2019.

The demonstrators with 89% votes polled as 'yes' have emerged the current favourite among people across the world who are voting to validate them as the people wielding the most influence in the past 12 months.

After months of civil unrest since June this year opposing the introduction of the Extradition Law Amendment Bill allowing the extradition of convicts to Mainland China, street rallies have now become part of Hong Konger’s lives. Although the bill was withdrawn in September, violence has increased to an unprecedented level with pro-democracy supporters now demanding full democracy and a probe into police actions and human rights violations that followed.

Netizens shared a post on its Telegram Channel asking pro-democracy supporters to vote for its fellow protesters. The students who have been leading the protests in the face of allegedly coercive measures applied by the police force are being hailed by many who pledged their votes to them.

Every year, TIME names the most influential person or group. The title is awarded to “the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year, for better or for worse,” as former Managing Editor Walter Isaacson of TIME wrote in its 1998 issue.

In 2018, it named a group of journalists, including the murdered Saudi scribe Jamal Khashoggi, as its person of the year, honouring their dedicated pursuit of the truth despite tremendous obstacles, including violence and imprisonment. In 2017, TIME’s editors chose the Silence Breakers who spoke out against sexual assault and harassment.

While TIME’s editors have the final say about who is the Person of the Year, the magazine also invites readers to express their opinion on who they think has earned the title. The online poll is a valuable way to see who the Internet thinks has most affected their lives. In early years, before the Internet, readers were invited to weigh in by mail, with their suggestions often filling the letters-to-the-editor page in the weeks before the announcement.

Interestingly, this year, no other person or people apart from the Hong Kong protesters could even get 50 % yes votes. The next in the line is actor Keanu Reeves and Climate strikers demanding action on environmental issues with only 20% 'yes' votes.

The teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, who kicked up a storm with her emotional speech at the UN Summit condemning the world leaders for failing to preserve suitable climate conditions for the younger generation, has received only 13% yes votes.

Meanwhile, only 3% voters across the world want Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the only Indian in the list, to be named the Time Person of the Year. Donald Trump, who was the TIME Magazine Person of the Year in 2016 when he was elected president, was nominated for the third year in a row but has only 10% votes in his favour. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has battled accusations of privacy abuses, has got 5% 'yes' votes.