Take a look at those who are elected on May 24 and you'll see some familiar faces. In fact, in the geographical constituencies you'll probably see almost nothing but familiar faces. Of the 20 directly elected legislators, at least 19 are likely to be former members of the provisional legislature or the pre-handover Legislative Council. The situation will be similar in the functional constituencies, where seven sitting members have already been returned unopposed. In the Election Committee, most successful candidates are expected to be former members of the provisional legislature. Many reasons have been given for the popular apathy towards the May 24 polls, and no doubt a number of factors are at work. But one cause must be that it is hard to get too excited about elections which will simply result in the same old names being elected once again. This was not previously a problem. The 1991 elections brought many new politicians to the fore, such as the then almost unknown James To Kun-sun, now a key figure in the Democratic Party. The 1995 polls also brought in fresh faces, and not just among the democratic camp, with the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong's Chan Yuen-han becoming a legislator for the first time. This election is likely to be different. The only new blood among the directly elected members is likely to be The Frontier's Cyd Ho Sau-lan, Emily Lau Wai-hing's running-mate in New Territories East. Even Ms Ho is only filling a slot that was reserved for another ex-legislator, unionist Leung Yiu-chung, until he chose to stand elsewhere instead. Much of the blame for this likely lack of new faces is being pinned on the switch to a list variant of proportional representation, which gives the parties a larger say in who is elected by deciding the crucial ranking of candidates on their lists. It also makes it difficult for less well-known figures to pull off the unexpected victories they achieved in 1991 and 1995. But this would not be such a problem if parties such as the Democrats had picked a more diverse line-up instead of simply filling all their winnable slots with the same old faces. The clearest evidence of this is that, while the party is fielding more than 20 candidates, only two are women. Both have been given such low rankings on their respective lists that they stand no chance of success. This should not come as such a surprise. Neither in 1991 nor in 1995 did Hong Kong's leading democratic party field any female candidates in winnable seats, leading to the absurdity of having a male legislator as their Legco spokesman on women's affairs. That compares poorly with their rivals. The Liberal Party has an all-female line-up on Hong Kong Island, while the DAB has Ms Chan standing for one of its few winnable seats. Party officials react angrily to any suggestion of male bias, claiming other factors are at work. 'It is not every woman who is willing and able to make the personal and financial sacrifices of running for office,' said a spokesman. But such protestations sit ill with the success of independents such as Ms Lau and Ms Ho, who manage to juggle the personal and political commitments that the democrats seem to believe are so difficult to combine. Nor can it be coincidence that all the many women democrats who have shot to prominence in recent years (others include Christine Loh Kung-wai and Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee) have done so outside the Democratic Party. It is easy to just blame the voting system. But if a new generation of politicians are to be encouraged to emerge and help re-invigorate popular enthusiasm in the electoral process, then it will also require Hong Kong's most popular political party to put forward a more diverse line-up.