I have a very important role to play, claims Lee Wing-tat Taking part in the chief executive election has helped the Democratic Party consolidate its position at the head of the pro-democracy movement, its chairman said. Despite criticism in some quarters of the camp that it was futile to join the race, Lee Wing-tat said the Democrats would try to secure its 'entry ticket' for the 2007 contest - the 100 Election Committee nominations it needs to take part. He says the party will start to groom supporters to join the committee as early as next year. Mr Lee - who failed to become a candidate in last month's race because he got only 51 nominations - said his bid had helped his party regain its leading position in the pro-democracy movement after its setback in the Legco election last year. 'Because we took part in the chief executive election, both the party and myself will have a very important role to play in the future,' he said. 'It doesn't matter who will run in the next election. The fact remains that I am the only one with experience, and the Democratic Party is the only party with such experience. 'This has inevitably consolidated our leading position.' In recent years the party has seen support drop sharply, reflected in a dismal Legco election performance. The rise of the pro-democracy Article 45 Concern Group and other independent democrats also stole their thunder. Although most pro-democracy legislators supported Mr Lee's bid for chief executive, some openly opposed him for taking part in a 'small-circle' election and ridiculed his inability to offer a viable alternative to Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. While hoping the support from the pro-democracy camp and community groups will be stronger in 2008, Mr Lee said one lesson learned was the need to beef up the party's power base in the Election Committee. 'If you can secure the entry ticket, then it is irrelevant whether you call yourself a leader. This is how you show your capability - that you are the only party, the only candidate who can see eye to eye with Donald Tsang. 'Leadership, as I see it, is not something you can have just by saying it. Leadership is a result of the capability you have, and how much support you can muster.' Amid internal tensions in the pro-democracy camp, the party's plan to groom supporters in various Election Committee sectors could cause unease. But Mr Lee said other democrats could not wait for chances 'to drop from heaven' if they too wanted to play a greater role. 'Everything is down to capability. If all you needed was 10 nominations in order to run, then everyone could become a candidate,' he said. 'There is nothing you can be jealous about. There is nothing you can say if you can't get 100 nominations.' Mr Lee said the ultimate reason for taking part in the elections was to expand the room for democratic elements in an undemocratic electoral system.