The Democratic Party is in dire need of a shake-up, its former vice-chairman, Dr Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, says. Dr Cheung, ousted from power in an election challenge launched by a group of Young Turks, said the ballot had pushed the party's factional politics into the open. He said factions were a healthy force, but the paramount task for the leadership was to reconcile and accommodate the differences in a constructive way. Last week, a group of second-tier members named unionist Lau Chin-shek as a candidate for vice-chairman in their campaign for a more radical stance on social and grassroots issues. They also are frustrated that power is vested with a small cell of senior members sitting in Legco. Dr Cheung said yesterday: 'The existence of factions is healthy. If we are to become a party with 6,000 or 60,000 members, how can it be possible that there are no factions? 'But if our internal mechanism cannot turn the different views into driving forces, our strength will be eroded.' However, he said some criticism from the Young Turks was unfounded and unfair. Although the domination of party affairs by the caucus mainly comprised of legislators was not ideal, their meetings were open to non-legislators. He agreed the party should not have the 'mentality of a ruling party' and should not always try to compromise with the administration. 'But even as an opposition party, the public expects us to become one that has high standards. We should not underestimate the intelligence of the public,' Dr Cheung said. 'I don't think the way out for the party is street politics. Don't deceive ourselves. How many people echoed their support for Tsang Kin-shing when he staged a hunger strike [against Tung Chee-hwa's policy address]? 'People who vote for us do not want us just to demonstrate but to do something in the legislature.' He said the party line had been adopted and endorsed over the past few years after much discussion. 'I'm disappointed that few came out to defend it. If any suggestions of a more radical and leftist line are correct, what's our difference with the Chinese Communist Party?' he said. But he agreed the operation and structure of the party needed to be reformed. Dr Cheung said the Democrats had taken the lead in shaping the political culture in elections and Legco in the past and that was followed by other parties. 'We need imagination and new thinking now if we want to continue to lead,' he said. 'There are already signals that we've become ossified. But the party leadership has been alert and discussed it before the Young Turks raised it in the open'. Dr Cheung said changes in the political and economic scene since the handover had raised new challenges for the party. 'After the handover, the political threat has largely disappeared,' he said. 'Public support for the party has been steady. It's easy for the party to become too content with the status quo. 'We need to think hard about how to make a breakthrough. If we still believe and are confident of full democracy in the long run, we have to prepare ourselves and ask whether we are capable of leading the community. 'If we criticise the Government's positive non-intervention policy, we have to ask ourselves whether we have new and better ideas.' The party had to set goals on what could be done through the legislature and show supporters what it had done. 'Why has [Democrat legislator] Andrew Cheng Kar-foo become well-known? It's because of his actions of protest such as sleeping in the street. There are no incentives for people to become thinking-type politicians.' Dr Cheung, who resigned from the central committee after his defeat, said he hoped the party would start discussions on the way forward after the dust of the controversy had settled.