Eighteen members of the Democrats' radical 'Young Turks' faction have carried out their long-standing threat to defect from the party and join The Frontier. The Social Democratic Forum - created by the faction and including other veteran activists - announced yesterday that its 50 members had resigned and joined The Frontier on Tuesday. The split signals the end of a row which has troubled the Democrats since different positions on a minimum wage divided members in 1999. The Young Turks have not been involved in the Democrats' internal affairs for 16 months and have been frustrated by a lack of financial support from the party, which has demanded greater discipline, according to insiders. The ideological differences between the moderates and hardliners was highlighted at a rally during Tung Chee-hwa's election campaign when Democrat Fred Li Wah-ming was called a 'monster' for attending one of the Chief Executive's election forums. But District councillor Andrew To Kwan-hang, one of those who resigned, predicted yesterday that the defections would not greatly damage the Democrats. 'This is a decision long due and we have finally made up our minds to make a move. By joining The Frontier, we hope to put new force into the democratic movement,' Mr To said. He said he and two other ex-members had handed in their resignation letters to the Democrat's leadership. He said party chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming had asked them stay. 'We declined his request, but of course we would co-operate with the Democrats in the future as partners in the democratic camp,' he said. Democrat vice-chairman Law Chi-kwong said that the Central Committee last night endorsed Mr To's resignation but added they had not received any other resignation notices.