Decision set to remove doubts on whether Anson Chan will run
The decision by veteran democrat Martin Lee Chu-ming not to seek re-election is likely to remove uncertainty over whether former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang stands.
With Mr Lee out of the picture, Mrs Chan's participation would be crucial to the pan-democratic camp's ambition of gaining four of the six Hong Kong Island seats in the September Legco polls, Democratic Party sources said.
Mrs Chan, who won the by-election for the seat of late Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong leader Ma Lik, has yet to say if she will run in September. She is not a member of the Democratic Party but can be counted as a democrat.
Meanwhile, the sources said Mr Lee, former chairman of the Democratic Party, had made up his mind only in the past few days.
They said some political heavyweights, who were not party members, had urged him to stay on, while other politicians had urged him to step down to make room for new blood.
'His family always wanted him to step down. I would say that was an important concern for Mr Lee in coming to his decision,' a source close to the former chairman said.
Party popularity polls showing Mr Lee ranked around halfway down the list of potential Hong Kong Island candidates was another factor, a veteran party member said. This emerged in at least two polls conducted by the party to help in its planning, one last year and one early this month.
The sources said Mr Lee's decision had greatly increased the possibility of Mrs Chan standing, which they said would give the camp its only chance of securing four seats.
The likely candidates from the pan-democratic camp include Central and Western district councillor Kam Nai-wai, former Democratic Party chairman Yeung Sum and Audrey Eu Yuet-mee and Tanya Chan Suk-chong of the Civic Party. It is not clear whether Mrs Chan and Mr Kam would be on a joint ticket, which is seen as the best way to secure Mr Kam a seat in the legislature.
A party source said it became urgent for Mr Lee to make up his mind before Sunday, when the party will endorse the lists for the forthcoming election. If Mr Lee had made his declaration then it would have overshadowed the meeting, the source said.