Legislative Council elections 2016

Will ‘Thunderbolt Plan’ fizzle? NeoDemocrats won’t join proposed pan-dem primary aimed at securing Legco ‘super seats’

Decision a setback for HKU professor Benny Tai's call for pro-democracy parties to forge united front in coming elections

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2016, 11:56am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2016, 8:27pm

A plan to maximise the chances of pan-democrats winning several “super seats” in the coming Legislative Council elections hit its first setback after the NeoDemocrats decided not to support the ­proposed coordinating ­mechanism.

In a special general meeting on Monday night, the party, which spun off from the Democratic Party in 2010, backed district councillor Kwan Wing-yip contesting a “super seat”.

It also voted against joining a proposed primary for pan-democrat candidates. The race involves some 3.2 million voters throughout the territory who are not eligible to vote in a traditional functional constituency.

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The party’s decision places the camp in a difficult situation with at least five pan-democrat aspirants contesting the “super seats”. They currently hold three, while their pro-Beijing counterparts ­occupy two.

Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting had earlier floated the so-called “Thunderbolt Plan” in a bid to minimise direct clashes in the camp so they would not end up handing victory to Beijing loyalists.

Kwan denied yesterday that the party had ignored the overall interest of the bloc.

“We want to offer voters more choices. Do we really have to field only three lists of candidates like last time? Why can’t we be more ambitious and aim for four seats?” Kwan said, adding the camp could benefit from the current highly politicised atmosphere.

Kwan said NeoDemocrats would not take part in the proposed primary as it would only favour big parties, although he ­later admitted that it could serve as a possible indicator of the aspirants’ popularity.

Why Hong Kong’s five ‘super seat’ lawmakers are feeling the political heat

Dr Ma Ngok, a political scientist at the Chinese University, hit out at Kwan’s argument.

“Numbers expose the lies. Does he mean up to 70 per cent of the total vote share goes to the pan-democratic camp?” he said.

In 2012, pan-democrats ­secured three of the five “super seats” by winning 50.7 per cent of the 1.67 million ballots cast in the territory-wide constituency.

Ma said it was very difficult for the camp to keep the three incumbent seats should there be more than three lists of candidates, adding the stern stance of the NeoDemocrats would only discourage other parties from ­coordinating.

Democratic Party lawmaker Sin Chung-kai declined to ­comment on the NeoDemocrats’ election strategy, but cited figures to ­illustrate how tough it was for the camp to win three seats in 2012.

“Albert Ho Chun-yan beat his pro-Beijing counterpart by a ­margin of fewer than 30,000 votes in the last election,” he said, ­referring to his party colleague.

The Democratic Party had earlier decided to field two candidates, Roy Kwong Chun-yu and incumbent James To Kun-sun, to contest the seats.

Lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung, of the Neighbourhood and Worker’s Service Centre, who currently represents New Territories West, has indicated an interest in the race. The Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood is also tipped to field one candidate.

The NeoDemocrats were formed by a group of ex-Democrats who were unhappy with the party’s decision to back the compromise political reform plan in 2010 which created the “super seats”.

Kwan yesterday denied there was any “moral problem” for him to run in a “super seat” contest he once condemned. He said the performance of the incumbent lawmakers was far from ­satisfactory.