A leading Beijing-loyalist politician has suggested a cross-party coalition could help reach a deal on the highly charged issue of electoral reform.
Chan Yuen-han said loyalists and pan-democrats should get together and try to hammer out a consensus before the government unveiled its proposal for the 2017 chief executive election.
"It is possible for the various parties to sit down and reach a consensus - before the government rolls out its own proposal," the Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker said, speaking in a personal capacity.
Pro-business politicians welcomed the idea but a key pan-democrat expressed doubts.
Chan said her idea stemmed from the "eight-party coalition" from 2000 to 2004 in which loyalist parties, including the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and the Liberal Party, joined the Democratic Party and Confederation of Trade Unions to discuss livelihood and economic issues.
As a starting point, the veteran unionist said the FTU could revise its reform proposal to allow more candidates to run.
The group proposed that candidates would need approval from at least half of the nominating committee before being allowed to seek the public's nod when the city's leader is chosen democratically. Pan-democrats condemned the idea, arguing that the committee, expected to be dominated by Beijing loyalists, would "screen" candidates.
"In my opinion, the threshold can be lowered to allow more participation," Chan said. "A lot of … effort is needed to nurture a central, moderate force on electoral reform."
But Chan ruled out acting as middle man: "[Legco] president Tsang Yok-sing can do the job."
Former Democrats chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said the coalition could only happen "if Beijing has given up screening candidates. I believe Chan has the sincerity and determination to do something constructive … but the prerequisite is that Beijing would allow them to do so."
Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, chairman of the Business and Professionals Alliance, said: "We are open to sitting down with everyone to forge a consensus."