If the national security law imposed by Beijing has made the life of pan-democrats more difficult, the electoral reform has left many of them wondering if there is any room at all to participate from inside the system. Some say the pan-dems might just as well fight for what they want from the outside. Such a view is probably shared by those who have lost confidence in the city’s future. But if the pan-democrats were to give up on elections, they would let down many more who still believe in the need for a meaningful opposition in the political structure. Some moderate figures say they will still contest elections, saying the camp just has to adjust to the new rules. But others believe that even if a limited number of candidates can eventually pass the nomination hurdles for the Legislative Council and Election Committee polls, there is not much they could achieve. The way forward for the pan-democrats is no doubt difficult. The constituencies where they have an edge are being scaled down or revamped, so much so that it looks almost certain that they would command fewer seats and less influence in future. Observers say even those who are elected will have to keep looking over their shoulders because of the new disqualification mechanism under the national security law. Hong Kong opposition figures face uncertain future after electoral overhaul Separately, funding for the Democratic Party and Civic Party’s operations has been reduced following the mass resignation of lawmakers in protest against the removal of four allies last year. Without the contribution from members’ salaries and from the public funds for those elected to office, the parties are struggling to maintain staffing levels and pay for other activities. The Covid-19 pandemic and the national security law have made fundraising more difficult. The legal costs of defending their members arrested under the law are another drain on resources. There was a time when the pan-democrats were split over the question of whether to participate in the Election Committee and the chief executive race, which they see as “small circle elections”. Even though the outcome was widely seen as being controlled by Beijing, they still came forward in the hope of making the process more democratic. The electoral reform imposed by Beijing is not exactly the same. But it could be argued that the pan-democrats can still try to exercise some influence. The shifting political paradigm makes their participation all the more important. Beijing officials and Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor have said that not all opposition figures are unpatriotic. Inevitably, the pan-dems need to adjust their positions and strategies in light of the new rules of the game. But as long as they steer clear of the red lines, there is still room for them to play a meaningful role.