Reality check: Hong Kong's pan-democratic parties face litmus test in November's District Council elections
The district council elections next month have been billed as a litmus test on the latest state of public opinion. It is true that they are the first major elections since the Occupy protests and the government's failed electoral reform package. But the pan-democratic camp has not gained as much political capital from the Occupy movement as it had hoped. As things stand, there are a record number of 951 nominations for just 431 seats. Only 66 constituencies are uncontested.
That will just work against the pan-democrats. This is because the more seats there are up for grabs, the better it benefits the well-funded establishment parties. The pan-dems have always been outgunned when it comes to funding. But this year, infighting within their camp means the more uncompromising groups such as Civic Passion and several others that emerged from the Occupy protests are fighting for seats contested by the Democratic Party. Even party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing has come out to criticise Civic Passion for moving into the Democrats' territories.
The pan-dems' inability to coordinate strategies means they risk cannibalising each other. Despite all the storm and thunder from the "yellow umbrella" movement last year, only about 20 constituencies are being contested by umbrella-related groups. Meanwhile, Democrat heavyweight Albert Ho Chun-yan is facing one of the mostly fiercely contested constituencies with six candidates.
All these will only benefit the establishment parties such as the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. The DAB already has a reputation as an election machine that has nailed down the mechanics of district elections into a science. If, as predicted, the establishment camp scores a big win next month, the pan-dems can hardly sell the results as a true reflection of public opinion. They will, as usual, blame their lack of funding.