The government's green paper on constitutional reform is misleading, because the way questions are structured confuses respondents, a leading pollster and pan-democrat legislators say. The warning came yesterday as a survey found that public support for choosing the chief executive by universal suffrage in 2012 had plunged when pollsters asked questions based on the green paper. But public support for the democrats' proposal - to return the chief executive by universal suffrage in 2012, with a 1,200-strong nomination committee and a threshold of 50 nominations for each candidate - rose by seven points since a similar survey early this month, to 56 per cent. The survey of 1,007 respondents, sponsored by the democrats, was carried out by the University of Hong Kong last week, making it the first survey after the green paper was published. Public support for the democrats' proposal to return all lawmakers by universal suffrage in 2012 remained at 48 per cent. Fifteen per cent were opposed to choosing the chief executive by universal suffrage in 2012, and 21 per cent were opposed to choosing the legislature that way in 2012. But when the chief executive poll issue was asked in the way presented in the green paper, the results were much different. A total of 37 per cent of the people said they would want to 'establish a nominating committee directly in 2012'; 32 per cent said they would want to 'go through a transitional phase' before 2017; and 20 per cent said they wanted to attain universal suffrage after 2017. On the Legco election, 42 per cent of respondents wanted universal suffrage in 2012; 31 per cent said they preferred it in 2016; and 19 per cent after 2016. Robert Chung Ting-yiu, director of the university's public opinion programme, said the green paper's questions were 'error-prone' and had 'serious deficiencies' that would affect the results. 'Using a simple questionnaire design suggested by the government may not be able to paint the picture,' Dr Chung said, adding he would design a comprehensive model questionnaire for non-governmental groups to use to consult the public. Democrat Sin Chung-kai said the University of Hong Kong survey showed the structure of the questions in the green paper could be misleading and could produce lower public support on universal suffrage. Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee called for the three-month consultation to be extended.