When a botched ballot magnified an expected defeat of the government’s electoral reform package with just eight votes in favour on Thursday, pan-democratic lawmakers gathered in a victorious mood to pose for a group photograph, enjoying their moment in history – but only very briefly. Soon after they emerged from the Legislative Council chamber, the pan-democrats sounded a prudent note, vowing to continue fighting for true universal suffrage. Granted, their wish to relaunch the reform exercise for the chief executive election may not come true any time soon, as Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has said his administration will put aside the process for the remaining two years of his term.
But as they see it, their next battles will be at the November district council and 2016 Legco elections, to resist losing seats, as Leung and Beijing officials want electors to punish the pan-democratic camp for rejecting the reform plan. They want to retain their “critical minority” in the legislature so there are enough votes to thwart any more attempts at what they call fake universal suffrage.
Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan, for one, is cautiously optimistic about how the surprise walkout of 31 of their Beijing-loyalist rivals can help the pan-democratic camp’s cause in the upcoming election campaigns, believing it may give them some ammunition.