With signs pointing to a huge turnout for the upcoming July 1 rally and more seats in the next legislature, pro-democracy leaders have moved to lower the political temperature and assuage fears about their growing power and influence. In a Legco debate yesterday, veteran democrat Lau Chin-shek said the July 1 march should convey a message of hope, not confrontation. He called on both the democratic camp and Beijing to make concessions, forge dialogue and, more importantly, change the mindset of 'us versus them'. Separately, an organiser of the July 1 rally confirmed that the controversial slogan 'Return power to the people' would be replaced with the demand for universal suffrage. Over the past few weeks, the pro-democracy camp has begun toning down predictions of its chances in the next Legco election. Democratic Party election strategist Lee Wing-tat said this week his best scenario envisaged a total 29 seats, up from 22. This is despite a forecast by some pro-Beijing figures that the democrats are likely to get a majority of 31 seats, deepening fears of a gridlocked government and more friction with Beijing. While this may be just an election tactic by the pro-Beijing camp, feelings of uncertainty and anxiety about the post-election scene do exist in some sectors. International ratings agencies have expressed concerns about the possibility of a lame duck government if the opposition gets a simple or even near-majority. Against this backdrop, pro-democracy leaders want to calm jitters about their rising power in the run-up to the September 12 election. By doing so, they may stand a better chance of grabbing 'swing votes' in the polls. Conscious that most people do not want to provoke Beijing, Mr Lau said that July 1 should be seen as a positive yearning for democracy - not an attempt to confront Beijing. Likewise, leading democrats indicated they did not want to rock the boat after September. Mr Lau's remarks have already caused a stir within the pro-democracy camp, which is anything but unanimous on its long-term strategy towards Beijing and on issues such as universal suffrage. There will still be conflicting signals - and the possibility of a split - within their ranks. But the trend of democrats moving to the centre in the spectrum of public policy debate is unlikely to be reversed.