When the Legislative Council resumes business on Wednesday it will be with subtle changes in the balance of power, academics and politicians believe. The new session will be marked by the absence of an annual policy speech because Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa has decided to move it to January to give his ministers more time to review priorities. The appointment of two party leaders, James Tien Pei-chun of the Liberal Party and Tsang Yok-sing of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong, to the Executive Council is widely seen as a step closer to a ruling coalition. Li Pang-kwong, a political science professor at Lingnan University, said the role of the pro-democracy camp as an opposition party would become more prominent in the new Legco session. 'I think the sharp contrast between pro-government and opposition parties will be further strengthened,' Professor Li said. Although the balance of power may shift slightly in favour of the pro-democracy camp, it is unlikely to change significantly despite the 'ruling coalition' comprising the government, the Liberals and the DAB, as the two parties had been the government's allies for a long time, Professor Li said. However, because the Liberals and the DAB might not agree on some issues, officials might have to form alliances with other parties to push through some issues, he said. Professor Li dismissed suggestions Legco might lose its focus after the deferral of the policy address to January, saying the government would still present a clear legislative agenda over the next few months. Whether the long-running tensions between the executive and the legislature would be eased depended on how party leaders' views were handled by the administration, he said. 'But the fundamental problems are still there,' he added, referring to the fact that the ministerial system reformed only the executive arm without giving Legco an enhanced role. He also warned that because ministers had not established track records, both sides could fail to win public confidence. Political commentator Ivan Choy Chi-keung, of City University, said the pro-democracy camp would focus on ministerial performance. Referring to the pressure on the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Frederick Ma Si-hang, to apologise over the penny-stocks fiasco, Mr Choy said: 'I think the politics in Legco might become increasingly personalised.' DAB chairman Mr Tsang said he believed there would be no difference in the balance of power even though he and Mr Tien had joined Mr Tung's new cabinet. 'It's not the case that there is a new Legco election . . . The political parties will hold the same number of Legco seats in the new session,' he said. Changes in the new session hinged on how effective the ministerial system would be, he said. On the potential achievements of the Legco cross-party coalition after the sudden departure of the 'Breakfast Group' of independents, he said: 'It certainly will be very limited. But it was in the past as well.' One thing is certain though - the seven-party coalition, which has 43 votes in the 60-member legislature, will try to find common proposals to put to Financial Secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung in the run-up to his next Budget. The DAB and the Democratic Party have launched campaigns calling for transport fare cuts. Asked whether district council polls next year would make it difficult for the parties in the coalition to co-operate on the issue of fares, Mr Tsang said: 'We all understand competition is bound to be more intense in the run-up to district council polls.' Miriam Lau Kin-yee, vice-chairwoman of the Liberal Party, said: 'We hope communication between lawmakers and the government will improve [now that Mr Tien and Mr Tsang have joined the Exco].' Law Chi-kwong, vice-chairman of the Democratic Party, said the launch of the ministerial system and the inclusion of Mr Tien and Mr Tsang in Exco would aid the Democrats because the other two parties would have to toe the government line, and people would clearly see the difference between them and the Democrats. He said his party would try to exert power with its 12 seats in Legco by assuming the role of the opposition in the legislature. It also would try to strengthen co-operation with other pro-democracy parties, he said. Mr Law said although his party was opposed to the postponement of the policy address, the delay had provided time for politicians to put pressure on the government about the shape and implications of new proposals.