How can we break the deadlock on constitutional reform? The government says its proposals for the 2012 elections represent its bottom line and there is no room for concessions. But all democrat lawmakers have rejected the package. If that's so, there is little prospect of enough votes being won in the Legislative Council to see reforms put in place. Something has to change. At a time like this, our city needs strong leadership. Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen pledged to solve the democracy issue during his term of office. He has done well to secure a timetable, with universal suffrage now on the cards for elections in 2017 and 2020. But actually moving our political system any nearer to that goal is proving a much more intractable problem. An attempt to introduce changes five years ago was voted down by democrats. Now his second attempt is facing the same unhappy fate. It is true that the Basic Law deals our city's leader a difficult hand to play. It requires him to be responsible to the central government, but also to represent the people of Hong Kong. Reconciling the democratic aspirations of our community with Beijing's cautious approach to reform is no easy task. But Tsang must rise to this challenge. When officials speak of the bottom line, it is generally understood to mean the point beyond which Beijing is not prepared to go. Nonetheless, the central government might be persuaded further changes are needed to get a bill - which everyone wants - passed. In 2005, a concession was offered on the eve of the vote in Legco. The bottom line was moved several times during the debate over proposed new national security laws in 2003. There must still be room for manoeuvre this time. Tsang is the only one in a position to rally all sides in Hong Kong to strike a deal and to persuade Beijing of the need for any further concessions. He cannot succeed by himself, of course. All concerned should be thinking hard about how they can help strike a deal. Many of those elected in functional constituencies are, naturally, hoping to cling on to their privileges for as long as possible. But this is a short-sighted policy. The die has been cast in favour of universal suffrage. Rather than trying to frustrate and delay this process, they should embrace it. A genuinely democratic system need not deprive the business, professional and trade-based sectors of their representation in Legco. It is just that they would have to compete for seats on a level playing field with everyone else. This has been done successfully by these sectors elsewhere in the world. There is no reason to believe Hong Kong would be any different. Narrow interests should be put aside for the greater good. Democrats, meanwhile, should push hard for further concessions, as the government's proposals need improving. But their demands have to be realistic. There is no prospect of functional constituencies being scrapped at this stage, or a road map to universal suffrage being put in place, no matter how desirable these steps may be. Rather than wasting time and energy with meaningless by-elections, democrats should be exploring the politics of the possible. They should be negotiating with the government, seeking the best deal they can support. Beijing, too, has an interest in seeing progress made. A more democratic system would make Hong Kong easier to govern and help ease some divisions in society state leaders have expressed concern about. The struggle for democracy has gone on too long. We must reach a consensus so that Beijing's promise of universal suffrage can be honoured and the Basic Law's 'ultimate goal' achieved.