The task of forming a united front of the small 'd' democratic forces in the next Legislative Council elections has not been easy. Even though six more seats will be up for grabs in the geographical constituency polls, for a total of 30, incumbents and new aspirants far outnumber the seats likely to go to the democrats. Comprised of several pro-democracy groups and like-minded independents, the pan-democracy camp has been anything but united and organised. This is the first time it has attempted to compromise on candidacy. Not surprisingly, there have been no cut-and-dried game rules to decide who goes where. With the strength of the Democratic Party declining and the popularity of the Article 45 Concern Group rising, the co-ordinating exercise has been complicated by the fact that the pro-democracy camp was in the process of reconfiguring its power and influence. Still seen as the democratic flagship, the Democratic Party is anxious to keep as many seats as possible in the new Legco. Given a choice, the popular barristers in the Article 45 Concern Group, such as Alan Leong Kah-kit and Ronny Tong Ka-wah might not have gone into politics. They feel obligated to help grab more seats for the pan-democracy force, but do not want to squeeze out other democrats in the process. At the same time, minority pro-democracy groups, such as The Frontier and the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood (ADPL), are hoping to gain a bigger voice in Legco. Last but not least, longstanding feuds between individuals in the camp have bred mistrust. The lack of transparency, close communication and systematic consultation among concerned parties in the process has given rise to speculation and conspiracy theories, resulting in more mistrust and scepticism. Against that background - plus the constraints of the voting system - if the pan-democracy camp is to win half the seats in Legco, it will need the 'small miracle' cited last week by Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, a respected academic who helps compiles the election list. It came as no surprise that a fresh controversy over the lineup erupted just one day after the list was publicised. On Saturday, a vice-chairman of the ADPL, Bruce Liu Sing-lee, announced he would not follow the election game plan. He has decided to drop out of the Kowloon East constituency poll. Rumor is rife that Mr Leong, a prominent barrister, dropped the idea of standing for direct polls in Kowloon East on the eve of the Friday announcement - in face of opposition from Mr Liu and other pro-democracy candidates. Mr Leong's decision to run in the Hong Kong Island constituency has prompted Cyd Ho Sau-lan - who had been expected to seek re-election in Hong Kong Island - to parachute into the Kowloon West constituency to avoid infighting. Ms Ho's surprise move means she has to lock horns with three key pro-democracy incumbent legislators. Following Mr Liu's pullout from Kowloon East, the election lists in at least two other constituencies - Hong Kong Island and Kowloon West - are likely to go back to the drawing board. Further lineup changes look almost certain. The latest signs of discord could be blessings in disguise if they prompt the pan-democracy force to think big and stress togetherness, at a time of rapid changes in the political landscape in the run-up to, and after, the polls. Chris Yeung is the Post's editor-at-large firstname.lastname@example.org OBSERVERChris Yeung 'Comprised of several pro-democracy groups, the pan-democracy camp has been anything but united and organised'