The Democratic Party has decided to field a candidate in next year's chief executive election even though it is 'not a genuine election' and its chances of winning are zero. The party has also proposed holding a primary election within the pan-democratic camp, to choose a candidate to represent the entire sector, but its Civic Party ally has already rejected the idea, saying it is case of 'putting the cart before the horse'. The Democrats believe that choosing a candidate through a public vote will help the pan-democratic camp better prepare for the universal suffrage expected in 2017. 'There is no hope for the pan-democratic candidate to win the chief executive election,' said party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan. 'But a primary election can help build the mechanism for intra-camp co-operation and will be a process of direct public engagement. The process is more important than the result.' The proposals were made after two hours of heated debate yesterday during a special meeting of the Democrats. The meeting voted 132 to 45 to confirm the party's participation in the chief executive poll on March 25. While Ho said party leaders would seek to meet other pan-democratic parties next week and strive for endorsement - and 'is optimistic to receive support from other parties' - Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit doubted if such a primary mechanism was meaningful. 'We should deliberate if such an internal poll would make pan-democrats more united,' he said. 'We also need to think what our election messages are to persuade the public.' He said choosing a single pan-democrat to contest the election at this time would be meaningless. 'We all know this person has no chance to sit in the Government House [as chief executive], so talking about the candidate matter now is putting the cart before the horse,' he said. 'Democrats say such a primary can help the camp to prepare for the poll in 2017, but nothing is known, such as whether it would be an election open for all.' Under the Democrats' plan, a primary election will be held in January in a street poll that would invite people to choose their candidate via 300 to 500 iPad computer tablets. Permanent residents aged above 18 can present their identity cards at booths set up in various MTR and railway stations, and cast their vote on a computer programme. Democratic vice-chairman Sin Chung-kai, who demonstrated a prototype of the system at the Democrats meeting, said its reliability would be high and the cost minimal. 'We can borrow about 100 iPads, or sell the devices after the poll, so the cost is not high. We will invite academics to monitor the process and hire students to carry out the poll, so as to ensure its independence.'