Lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan was elected chairman of the Democratic Party yesterday, easily overcoming a challenge by a reformist faction in the party. He immediately stressed the need for solidarity and unity in the party, which has suffered from factional disputes in recent years. Mr Ho defeated Chan King-ming, widely considered the leader of the 'reformist camp', by 204 votes to 81. His running mates, Sin Chung-kai and Tik Chi-yuen, became vice-chairmen with 180 and 170 votes respectively. Professor Chan's running mate, Kwong Kwok-chuen, got 48 votes and independent candidates Andrew Fung Wai-kwong and Ho Suk-ping received 79 and 73 votes. Undercurrents of discord still persist, however, despite members of the reformist faction saying they accepted the results. In both the Central Committee and Disciplinary Committee elections, all but one 'mainstream' member recommended by outgoing chairman Lee Wing-tat and party patriarch Szeto Wah were elected. All reformist members were defeated. Mr Ho said the party's most important work was the forthcoming District Council and Legislative Council elections, and ensuring solidarity and unity within the party. He said it would continue to work closely with the Civic Party. 'Objectively, some of the sources for our votes will be the same, but their participation also broadens the overall base of democratic support,' Mr Ho said. The party, which has long been at the vanguard of Hong Kong's democratic movement, has suffered setbacks recently because of the rise of other democratic groups and internal strife. The discord was deepened by a report compiled by the mainstream camp that accused the reformists of 'vote planting' by recruiting new members. Both Mr Ho and Professor Chan appeared eager to put their differences behind them yesterday. 'We respect the party's decision and will continue to insist on reforms,' Professor Chan said. 'We hope the party will do well in 2007 and 2008 and we will continue to serve the community and the Democratic Party.' Mr Ho also extended an olive branch, saying he would contact all those who ran for election and lost. 'We will treasure every member who has the intention of serving the party,' he said. Earlier in the day, he emphasised the importance of resolving differences within the party's internal procedures rather than through the media. But Professor Chan said there were concerns about differing opinions being heard. 'I hope that the new central committee will properly handle different opinions. That would be for the better.' But other members were less tactful. Raymond Luk Yiu-man, who was singled out in the membership row report, said mainstream candidates repeatedly returned to the report during their campaign.