The Liberal Party leadership is not convinced that a surge in support for the party after its role in getting the National Security Bill withdrawn will boost its success in the November District Council elections. Opinion polls carried out after the shock resignation of party chairman James Tien Pei-chun from Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's cabinet in July - a key factor in the deferral of the bill - have shown the party has leapfrogged in public support. A University of Hong Kong poll held earlier this month found the Liberal Party was the second most popular political group after the Confederation of Trade Unions, even more popular than the pro-democracy flagship, the Democratic Party. But Miriam Lau Kin-yee, vice-chairwoman of the Liberal Party, said popularity ratings might not translate into votes. 'The public support looks good according to the various opinion polls. But we are not counting on that in the elections', she said. She said results would depend on a party's record and relationship with the district. With the nomination period expected to open in just over three weeks, the business-friendly Liberals have yet to decide on their final list of candidates. Some 400 seats are up for grabs in the election, scheduled for November 23. Last month, Mr Tien revealed that half a dozen independent candidates wanted to run under the Liberal Party banner. But Ms Lau said talks on the idea had been extended because of complications such as the candidates' personal backgrounds, the constituencies they would contest and possible clashes with Liberal candidates. In the last election in 1999, the Liberals fielded 34 candidates but won only 15 seats. It is understood the party will field about the same number of candidates this year. Wong Yee-him, the party's Kowloon West regional chairman and executive committee member, said the Liberal banner would not guarantee the newcomers victory. This was because the turnout rate by middle-class voters, the party's key support base, was so low.