The pan-democrats may reach a consensus on pursuing universal suffrage by the end of the year, but getting public backing will be key to its success, an academic involved in the process says.
And Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, a political science professor at City University, would not rule out a "final showdown" with the government - referring to the "Occupy Central" plan to blockade the district's roads in demand of universal suffrage, floated by law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting.
Cheng is tipped to become the convenor of a new cross-party platform aiming to be a united front for pro-democracy groups in the upcoming political reform. The platform - involving at least two of the biggest parties in the pro-democracy camp, the Democratic Party and the Civic Party - is set to be unveiled by the end of next month.
Cheng said they would first try to devise a consensus plan for political reform, followed by a concrete proposal by the end of the year, or early next year.
The government has yet to begin the constitutional reform process, which is expected to touch on the Legislative Council election in 2016, followed by universal suffrage for the chief executive poll in 2017.
"Public support is the most important thing for any proposals. We are absolutely open to any ideas before we formulate our stance and hammer out a plan," Cheng said, adding they would use polls and even a civil referendum to gauge public opinion.
And while there are "no pre-conditions" in discussing universal suffrage, Cheng said: "The generally understood demands include one person, one vote, a nomination threshold for candidates not higher than the current one, and a real competition."
He said they would mobilise the public to take action in the second stage of the fight for democracy. "We would definitely consider the Occupy Central plan, but as the final showdown. But it is also a fact that people would no longer tolerate a proposal that does not allow universal suffrage after so many years."
The pro-democracy camp was split over strategies in the last democratic reform in 2010.