19 October 2019
Pan-democrats will need to decide on their final choice of candidates soon for the Legco by-elections in order to mount a successful campaign. Photo: HKEJ
Pan-democrats will need to decide on their final choice of candidates soon for the Legco by-elections in order to mount a successful campaign. Photo: HKEJ

Pan-dems can’t afford to lose time as by-elections loom

Vincent Cheng Wing-shun from the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) and Bill Tang Ka-piu from the Federation of Trade Unions have been firing on all cylinders recently in a bid to boost their public profile, moves that are believed to be related to the upcoming Legco by-elections in Kowloon West and New Territories East.

In contrast, the pan-democrats still remain undecided over whether to field single candidates to run in each of these two geographical constituencies in the by-elections scheduled for next March.

According to sources, pro-democracy parties will be meeting next week to discuss the feasibility of holding primary elections among themselves in order to decide who will be representing them in the by-elections. Their goal is to agree on a single candidate to run in each of the two constituencies in order to maximize their winning chances.

It is said that mainstream groups such as the Democratic Party had reservations initially about holding primaries within the pro-democracy camp. 

But the pan-democrats started to change their mind, according to sources, because they became aware that they would have little chance of reclaiming their lost seats unless they avoid infighting and coordinate with the localist faction.

Take Kowloon West as an example. In the Legco election last year, the pro-establishment camp snapped up a total of 110,000 votes, whereas localist groups took 40,000 and the mainstream pan-democrats 90,000.

The math is as simple as it gets: if the pan-democrats and the localists remain split and run on their own in the by-election next March, a pro-Beijing camp victory is almost a foregone conclusion.

As far as the by-election in the geographical constituency of the Hong Kong Island is concerned, at this stage the pan-democrats see no need to hold primaries. That is because they agree that the Demosistō should have priority over other groups in running for that seat, because after all, that seat belonged to its member Nathan Law Kwun-chung before he was disqualified.

However, there are still a lot of variables, and the mainstream pan-democrats may change their mind.

If the pan-democrats and the localists eventually agree to form a united front and hold primaries, they will have to get it done by the end of December at the latest, so that they can come up with their final choices of candidates before the commencement of the nomination period, expected to be sometime mid-January next year.

With just two months left, time is running out for the pro-democracy camp.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct 25

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]


Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.