There is still hope for a more diverse field in the 2017 chief executive election - possibly including pan-democrats - under Beijing's restrictive framework. So says Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing. The Beijing-loyalist politician believes there is scope for a wider field in the nominating committee's internal vote. That vote is meant to arrive at two or three candidates for the public ballot. If a low entry threshold was set, say, at just 10 per cent support from the 1,200-strong committee, up to 10 hopefuls could qualify for the internal vote, giving pan-democratic hopefuls a fighting chance, Tsang said. "I am [sure] pan-democrats would be among those aspirants," he told the South China Morning Post . The committee is expected to be dominated by Beijing loyalists, but Tsang said: "The credibility of the chief executive election would be challenged if the nominating committee barred a pan-democrat who excelled in the campaign and scored well in opinion surveys from going forward to the public vote … Beijing would pay a heavy political price if a popular pan-democratic candidate was barred." He expected the 2017 election campaign to feature televised debates similar to those in the 2007 and 2012 chief executive races. This would be one way of allowing public voters to assess their candidates, he said. In August, the National People's Congress Standing Committee ruled that only two or three people could contest the "one man, one vote" ballot in 2017, and that they would need majority support from a nominating body based on the election committee that selected Leung Chun-ying in the 2012 election. The pan-democratic camp says this would in effect screen out its candidate, and has vowed to veto any government proposal based on Beijing's framework. Tsang's argument can be seen in the three-horse race that emerged in 2012 after support from one-eighth of the 1,193 election committee members allowed Albert Ho Chun-yan of the Democratic Party to run against former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen and eventual winner Leung. The Legco president also noted that the ongoing democracy protests which have paralysed parts of the city and heightened tensions with the government were not conducive to rational discussion of political reform. Another impact of the protests was the delay to the city's second round of consultation on the reforms, which should have started early this month. The government decided on September 29 to postpone the exercise after protest leaders announced the start of their Occupy Central civil disobedience campaign the day before. Beijing's restrictive framework has raised doubts over whether the city will ever achieve genuine universal suffrage, but Tsang said he hoped the central government could convince pan-democrats that the method for electing the chief executive could still be improved after 2017. "Some people have suggested that the central government offer a second timetable and a road map for further improving the electoral method," he said. "It sounds difficult at this stage, but this could be a starting point for negotiation."