Democratic Party elder Martin Lee Chu-ming has suggested a solution to the deadlock over the 2017 chief executive election that he says would respect the power of the nominating committee while leaving the door open for a pan-democrat candidate.
Lee suggests letting the public, political parties and the committee each put forward two possible candidates.
The six names, jointly considered as a single list, would be submitted to the committee for a vote. If the list got more than half of the members' support, the six would go on to the popular vote.
"It would be all or nothing," Lee told the South China Morning Post. "Members of the nominating committee would not be able to selectively screen out any of the six on the list. If they rejected the list, everything would have to start over again."
Lee said he believed the arrangement would be acceptable both to Beijing - which insists on the nominating committee's right to choose candidates - and the pan-democrats, who want to field at least one contender.
Lee's suggestion came as the biggest pro-establishment political party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), announced its own proposal for the 2017 election.
The DAB suggested that hopefuls should require the backing of more than half of a 1,200- to 1,600-strong nominating committee in order to become candidates, and said committee members should have up to four votes each. The top two to four candidates who reached the threshold would go forward to the public vote.
Lee said his suggestion would leave room for Beijing and the pan-democratic camp to negotiate until they could settle on a list acceptable to both.
"If the nominating committee vetoes a resolution because it includes [Civic Party chairwoman] Audrey Eu Yuet-mee as one of the candidates, she might quit the race and make way for another pan-democrat for the second vote," Lee said. "My proposal offers room for pan-democrats to compromise if necessary."
Two veteran pan-democratic lawmakers described Lee's idea as a "creative" solution to the political impasse and worth further discussion.
"Even though the nominating committee could still say 'no' to candidates deemed unacceptable to Beijing, it couldn't keep on vetoing candidates from the pan-democratic camp," former Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said.
Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-yan said he appreciated Lee's efforts to move the debate forward. "His suggestion is quite creative but it may be difficult to implement on an operational level," the lawmaker said.
Wong Kwok-kin, of the Beijing-friendly Federation of Trade Unions, agreed it would be difficult to implement Lee's suggestion. "Martin Lee may have made a political calculation that under his blueprint Beijing would not dare veto pan-democratic candidates. But I don't think it's a serious proposal," Wong said.