Most opposition lawmakers have made the right decision to stay on after an opinion poll showed their supporters were divided. This followed the government’s postponement of the September Legislative Council elections for at least a year and extension of the normal four-year term as part of the emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic. Some lawmakers say this does not justify extending the mandate they won at the last election. The vote of 47.1 per cent in favour of staying and 45.8 per cent for leaving was hardly convincing. It reflected the rise of radical rifts in the opposition camp that have made compromise difficult, even in times of a global health crisis. Most of Hong Kong’s opposition will serve out extended Legco term Beijing’s backing for postponing a vote in which the pan-democrats expected to do well did not help. And there were arguable cases for and against extension of the current legislature’s term beyond this month. But it remains unclear how opposition members could serve Hong Kong better by resigning from Legco. A mass boycott in times of continuing political uncertainty would seem calculated to do more harm than good, given that the city has rarely been more in need of unity in the face of adversity. Hong Kong needs a credible opposition that provides checks and balances For all of their misgivings about the circumstances, the pan-democrats, as a de facto and diverse opposition to a more united front of government supporters, are indispensable to a meaningful role for the Legislative Council in vetting government funding, policies and proposals. Their decision averted the risk of a weak opposition voice. The result of the poll of 2,500, including 739 pan-democrat supporters, apparently prompted vigorous discussion among the bloc about how to present its decision to the public. Ahead of the announcement, two localist lawmakers formally notified the Legco president they would not serve out their extended terms. Otherwise, however, with the Democratic and Civic parties not in favour of a boycott, staying on may have seemed like a foregone conclusion. Hong Kong’s top court reiterates need for electoral officials to uphold fairness Confirmation should be welcomed as positive news from whatever political corner. If the purpose of leaving would have been simply to embarrass the government or undermine its legitimacy it is doubtful the strategy would have worked, though it may have garnered headlines overseas for a time. In terms of their own best interests, staying in Legco and using it as a constructive and legitimate platform for holding the government to account in a rational way is unlikely to do much harm to the pan-democrats’ prospects at the next election. Recent developments such as the introduction of a national security law have raised new concerns over political development. Hong Kong needs a credible opposition that provides checks and balances.