Federation leader views alliance as last resort
IF the pro-China candidate Cheng Yiu-tong were to seek an alliance with any of his three rivals for the Labour functional constituency in the Legislative Council elections, it would be decisive for the chances of his competitors.
As leader of the 210,000-strong Federation of Trade Unions, Mr Cheng stands the best chance of winning one of the two seats allocated.
The extensive network the federation has developed among its affiliated members and other unions is a vote-winner for its chairman, who is also a member of China's National People's Congress.
There are 332 unions registered in the constituency and the federation tightly controls its 96 affiliated members' votes. A further 22 unions with close ties to the federation are likely to follow its directions.
Since every voter has two votes, how the federation guides its member unions to use their second vote is crucial.
The other three candidates - retired civil servant John Luk Woon-cheung and unionists Lee Kai-ming and Lee Kwok-keung - are now struggling to win support.
If one of them succeeds in making an alliance with Mr Cheng, their chances will be enhanced significantly, with more than 110 unions able to give their second vote.
They have already approached Mr Cheng to ask for his blessing.
But, at a public forum, Mr Cheng hinted he preferred to let the affiliated members choose for themselves.
'I would see forming an alliance as a last resort to seek support. And I will not do so until I am not confident of securing enough votes to win,' Mr Cheng said.
Mr Cheng said his target was to secure more than 400 votes before election day. The 332 registered unions cover a total of 1,179 voters.
Besides the federation, support from more than 120 civil service unions is also seen as vital.