Pan-democrats yesterday agreed to jointly field a single candidate to run in the Legislative Council by-election for the Hong Kong Island constituency, and will decide on a method to choose their contestant from the various parties as soon as possible.
Although the hurdle of finalising a selection process for the candidate had to be overcome before an expected election nomination period starts in mid-October, pan-democrat leaders said yesterday's consensus had raised hopes that the camp could maintain unity.
Speaking after a meeting attended by 13 pan-democrat representatives, The Frontier convenor Emily Lau Wai-hing said she hoped a single candidate would emerge from the group.
'The will has been expressed and that is to jointly field one candidate to win, and win gracefully, in the election. I am hopeful that the chance is very small of more than one candidates emerging from the camp,' Ms Lau said.
The pan-democratic camp has been struggling to put aside differences by working on the selection process, which would result in the single candidate contesting the seat left vacant by the death of Ma Lik, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.
Several candidates have already indicated their intention of contesting the seat.
If former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee runs as expected with the support of Beijing loyalists, the only chance pan-democrats have of victory is if they avoid splitting the vote at all costs.
Ms Lau said preliminary suggestions for the selection process included holding debates among the contenders, followed by a series of opinion polls to determine their support among the public.
But there have also been suggestions that the candidates' history of district work and their political skills should be counted.
Ms Lau said those at the meeting believed the selection process should start by mid-September and the candidate be decided by mid-October.
A meeting between the Democratic Party, the League of Social Democrats and former lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan to discuss the selection process will be called before Monday, when the camp is to meet again to discuss details.
Ms Ho and Kam Nai-wai of the Democratic Party have already indicated their intentions of running, while Wong Yuk-man, leader of the League, said his group would also field a candidate.
Ms Ho said she welcomed the consensus, saying it would help maintain unity and increase the chance of victory for the camp.
Both Mr Wong, who took part in yesterday's meeting, and Democrat Lee Wing-tat said their parties would respect the outcome if a fair and open selection process could be worked out.
DAB acting chairman Tam Yiu-chung said his party had yet to discuss the by-election, saying he had not heard whether any of the party's members intended to run.