With the Legislative Council election little over a week away, Civic Party candidates are, like their pan-democratic allies, making an emergency plea to voters to help rescue their campaigns.
But political observers say the tactic, deployed much earlier than it was four years ago, could backfire by confusing voters.
Incumbent lawmakers Ronny Tong Ka-wah and Alan Leong Kah-kit, who top the party's slates in New Territories East and Kowloon East respectively, appealed to voters not to trust rumours that they had already secured enough votes to win re-election.
Tong even pointed to opinion polls showing that his support had plunged since early this month, leaving him at risk of losing his seat after eight years.
The calls came a day after the Democratic Party stepped up its campaign to retain its seven geographical seats after polls showed it losing ground to radicals.
Tong declined to comment on whether he was losing support to the radical groups People Power and the League of Social Democrats, but said: "Except for People Power, the support for most of the pan-democratic candidates in New Territories East has dropped recently."
Early this month a poll by the University of Hong Kong rated Tong the most popular candidate in the constituency with 13 per cent support. Yesterday the poll put him at 6 per cent, eighth in the race for the nine seats.
"I don't think I have made any mistakes or said something wrong recently," Tong said. "My impression was that some voters thought I have secured enough votes and therefore pledged support to other pan-democratic teams."
Tong obtained almost 40,000 votes in the last election and is expected to win re-election if he can secure a similar level of support.
Leong, the party's leader, will step up a campaign urging voters "not to believe that Leong has enough votes" from the end of this week. He said an internal poll had put him third among the nine candidates seeking five seats, but he warned against complacency. "From the experience of four years ago, the survey results are different from actual results," he said.
Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a political scientist at Chinese University, said the appeals for support could confuse voters. "The messages were chaotic and the voters would not know whose suggestion to follow," Choy said.
Tong's rivals are "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, Ip wai-ming, Emily Lau Wai-hing, Angel Leung On-kay, Scarlett Pong Oi-lan, Elizabeth Quat, Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, Yau Wing-kwong, Gary Chan Hak-kan, Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, Gary Fan Kwok-wai, James Tien Pei-chun, Wong Sing-chi, Raymond Ho Man-kit, Pong Yat-ming, Christine Fong Kwok-shan and Chan Kwok-keung.
Leong will take on Wong Kwok-kin, Andrew To Kwan-hang, Yim Fung Chi-kay, Wu Chi-wai, Chan Kam-lam, Paul Tse Wai-chun, Wong Yeung-tat and Tam Heung-man.