Pan-democrats are having trouble finding enough candidates to contest seats in the upcoming election of Election Committee members, who will pick the next chief executive. The camp has assembled about 170 candidates, which is considered at least 30 short of a safe margin. To nominate their own candidate for chief executive, the pan-democrats will need at least 150 nominations from the committee. To secure 150 seats, the conventional wisdom in political circles is that they should field at least 200 candidates in the December 11 election. Nominations for election to the 1,200-member committee open next Tuesday. The Professional Commons, the group responsible for finding pan-democratic candidates, said they were making last-ditch efforts to find more candidates to run in the various professional sectors that are the camp's traditional strongholds. The Professional Commons' vice-chairman Charles Mok said pan-democrats' participation in the coming chief executive election was crucial for laying the infrastructure for universal suffrage in 2017. 'We hope to force the candidates to face the public, and establish a primary election mechanism among the pan-democrats,' Mok said. The mechanism would select a single chief executive candidate from their camp. The difficulty for the pan-democrats, Mok said, was made worse by the Election Committee's expansion from 800 to 1,200 members. In the traditional pan-democratic stronghold of engineering, the camp can muster only eight candidates despite the addition of 10 new seats. Considered frontrunners for chief executive are former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen and former Exco convenor Leung Chun-ying, neither of them pan-democrats.