Pan-democracy camp

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Pan-democracy camp
Founded 1986
Ideology Direct democracy
Radical democracy
Social democracy
Social liberalism
Legislative Council
26 / 70
District Councils
124 / 458
Politics of Hong Kong
Political parties
Politics and government
of Hong Kong
Foreign relations
Related topics Hong Kong portal

Pan-democracy camp or pro-democratic camp (Chinese: 泛民主派, 民主派 or 泛民) refers to the political factions in Hong Kong that support increased democracy of Hong Kong under "One country, two systems". The "pan-democrats" would work together in areas of common interest, and not field candidates against one another in elections. The camp is often identified as opposition camp (反對派) due to its non-cooperative stance against the Chinese central government.

Democratic activists are usually critical of the post-1997 Hong Kong Special Administration Region government and the mainland China's central government, which they say does not properly represent the will of the people.[1] Hong Kong people who vote for pan-democracy candidates are generally hoping to achieve some implementation of checks and balances in government, since parts of the Hong Kong community treat democracy as an important means to guarantee freedom, their lifestyle and their living standard.[1] Its supporters also advocate a faster pace of democratisation and implementation of universal and equal suffrage. The Pan-democracy camp is aligned with and similar to, but distinct from, the Chinese democracy movement.

Members of the camp represent a very broad social and political demographic, from the working class to the middle class and professionals. Opposite to the pan-democracy camp is the pro-Beijing camp, whose members are perceived to be supportive of the Chinese central government based in mainland China.

Due to its democracy mission in the political scene, the camp is supported by influential radio hosts, news moguls and a large number of Hong Kong citizens, which can be reflected in Hong Kong Legislative Council and District Council elections. They had won 50.73% of the votes in 2012 Legislative Council election but held less than half of the seats in the Council because 30 out of 70 seats (i.e. those in functional constituencies) were not elected by ordinary voters.

Basic beliefs


Members of the camp include social workers and social activists who concern about the question of Hong Kong sovereignty took part in Hong Kong's district board, Urban Council and Regional Council elections in the early 1980s, as well as professionals, mainly lawyers, who entered the Legislative Council when functional constituencies were introduced in the mid-1980s. Several political groups formed the Joint Committee on the Promotion of Democratic Government demanding for 1988 direct election and universal suffrage in the new government after 1997. Among them, the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood, Hong Kong Affairs Society and Meeting Point were the three major pro-democratic groups and formed a strategic alliance in the 1988 district board elections.

Tiananmen protests and pre-Handover period

The foundation of its public support has its roots in opposition to the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre which aroused widespread horror, sympathy and support of the protesters by Hong Kong citizens.[2] The crackdown on Chinese media and subsequent suppression of student dissent was a mobilizing factor; and the first direct election to the Legislative Council in 1991 brought the amalgamation of some of these groups into the United Democrats of Hong Kong, which including, Szeto Wah and Martin Lee the two major icons in the protests of 1989.

The "Pro-Democracy camp" term has been in common use since the 1991 election of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, when the electoral alliance of United Democrats of Hong Kong and Meeting Point, together with other smaller political parties, groups and independents, won a historical landslide victory in the election, took 17 out of the 18 geographical constituency seats and controlled nearly half of the seat of the council. Some of the members of the camp, especially the Democratic Party, were often considered strategic allies of the government of Chris Patten, then governor.

The Democrats supported Chris Patten large-scale democratic reform bill for the 1995 Legislative Council election. However, Emily Lau's full-scale direct election amendment was vetoed in the result of Meeting Point's abstaining from voting for Emily Lau. The Democratic Party merged from the United Democrats and Meeting Point was formed in 1994 and won another landslide victory in the 1995 election. Together with other democratic parties and individuals (including Emily Lau, Lee Cheuk-yan and Leung Yiu-chung who formed The Frontier in 1996 and Christine Loh who formed the Citizens Party in 1997), the pro-democrats gained majority in the council for the last two years before 1997.

The PRC government argued that the electoral reform introduced by Patten had violated the Joint Declaration and thus they no longer felt obliged to honour it. A parallel Legislative Council, the Provisional Legislative Council, was formed in 1996 under the control of the Pro-Beijing camp, this became the Legislative Council upon the founding of the new SAR government in 1997.

Handover to China and 1 July 2003 Protest

All of its members, except the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood, declined to join the extralegal Provisional Legislative Council installed by the government of the People's Republic of China, and were ousted from the territory's legislature for a year until the 1998 election. Starting from the 1998 election, since the plurality electoral system was changed to proportional representation, compounded with the restoration of corporate votes in the functional constituencies, and replacement of broad-based functional constituencies with traditional ones, the number of seats of the camp dipped, albeit having similar share of vote. Within the camp, share of smaller parties and independents increased relatively, with the share of the Democratic Party falling from around two-thirds in 1995 to less than a half by 2004.

In recent years, use of "pan-democrats" is gaining in popularity, as it is typically meant to be non-denominational and all-inclusive. Members of the camp tend to use the latter term to identify themselves the "Pan-democracy camp" term is often used in negative tones by its detractors. "Pan-democrat" as a title has grown in usage especially during the passage of the national security and anti-subversion legislation, so-called Article 23. The pan-democracy camp was the strong opposition to the Article 23 and they successfully called for 5 millions people to protest on 1 June 2003 against the legislation. The pro-democrats received victories in the subsequent 2003 district councils and 2004 LegCo elections. The Article 23 Concern Group formed by the pro-democracy lawyers transformed into Article 45 Concern Group and its member Audrey Eu, Alan Leong and Ronny Tong were elected in the 2004 LegCo election.

In 2006, the group formed the middle class and professional oriented Civic Party. On the other hand, the left-wing radical group League of Social Democrats was formed in the same year by Trotskyist legislator Leung Kwok-hung and radical radio host Wong Yuk-man.

In the 2007 Chief Executive election, Civic Party's Alan Leong successfully gained enough nominations to challenge the incumbent CE Donald Tsang, but he was not elected as expected due to the control of the Election Committee by the pro-Beijing camp.

After the 2008 LegCo election, The Frontier merged into the Democratic Party and the convenor Emily Lau was elected vice chair of the party.

2012 Reform Package and split

Donald Tsang, the Chief Executive, promised to resolve the question of universal suffrage in his office during the election. He carried out the 2012 constitutional package in 2009 which was criticised by the pro-democracy as lack of genuine progress. The League of Social Democrats called for a de facto referendum in five geographical constituencies. Civic Party, the second largest pro-democratic party joined the referendum. However, the largest party, Democratic Party was reluctant to participate. The Democratic Party and other moderate democrats and pro-democracy scholars launched the Alliance for Universal Suffrage and started to have contact with the mainland officials. The Democratic Party brought out a revised proposal of the package to Beijing and the revised proposal was passed in the Legislative Council in the support of the government and Pro-Beijing camp.

However, it triggered a major split within the camp and also in the Democratic Party. The Young Turks including the LegCo member Andrew Cheng quit the party and formed the Neo Democrats. The Democratic Party was accused by the LSD and the radicals of betraying democracy and its supporters. On the matter of whether to coordinate with the moderate democrats in the 2011 district council elections, the League of Social Democrats was suffered in the factional fighting and the two of the three LSD legislators left the party in disarray and formed the People Power.[3] The People Power's campaign targeted pan-democrat parties in the 2011 DC elections that had supported the reform package filled candidates to run against them but only won one seat of 62 contested.

Nevertheless, the People Power managed to won three seats in the 2012 LegCo election and the radical democrats (People Power and the League of Social Democrats) topped 264,000 votes, compared to the Civic Party's 255,000 and Democratic Party's 247,000 respectively.[4] Despite the pan democrats secured three of the five District Council (second) constituency seats nominated by newly created under the constitutional package, the ratio of the vote share between pan democrats and pro-Beijing camp narrowed from traditional 60% and 40% to 55% and 45% significantly.

The chairman of the Democratic Party Albert Ho represented the pan-democracy camp to run in the 2012 Chief Executive election. On the election day the pan democrats rejected to vote for both Henry Tang and Leung Chun-ying called for blank vote from the electorates.

In March 2013, all 27 democratic legislators formed the Alliance for True Democracy, replacing the Alliance for Universal Suffrage, to show solidarity of the camp to fight for genuine democracy. But Raymond Wong soon left People Power, meant he was not a member of ATD.

Political parties

This list includes the political parties and groups currently represented in the Legislative Council:

Civil groups

Criticism of the camp

Since the camp's idea of western-style liberal democracy would not be accepted easily by the Chinese government run by Communist Party. In some cases, pan-democracy activists have been accused of high treason and as "traitors to Han Chinese".[5]

Electoral performance

Chief Executive elections

Election Candidate # of votes  % of vote Total vote
2007 Alan Leong Kah-kit 123 15.38
123 / 796
2012 Albert Ho Chun-yan 76 6.37
76 / 1,193

Legislative Council elections

Election Number of
popular votes
 % of
popular votes
Total seats +/−
1991 888,729Steady[6] 64.91Steady 16 4
20 / 60
1995 581,181Steady 63.73Decrease 17 10 4
31 / 60
1998 982,249Increase 66.36Increase 15 5 0
20 / 60
2000 799,249Decrease 60.56Decrease 16 5 0
21 / 60
2004 1,096,272Increase 61.93Increase 18 7
26 / 60
2008 901,707Decrease 59.50Decrease 19 4
23 / 60
2012 1,036,998Increase 57.26Decrease 18 9
27 / 70

Municipal elections

Election Number of
popular votes
 % of
popular votes
elected seats
1989 68,831Steady 32.38Steady 5 5
10 / 27
1991 200,877Increase 51.28Increase 6 7
13 / 27
1995 255,490Increase 45.82Decrease 17 14
31 / 59

District Council elections

Election Number of
popular votes
 % of
popular votes
elected seats
1988 139,982Steady 22.16Steady
61 / 264
1991 170,757Increase 32.11Increase
83 / 272
1994 249,685Increase 36.38Increase
124 / 346
1999 271,251Increase 33.45Decrease
122 / 390
2003 469,640Increase 44.67Increase
193 / 400
2007 445,781Decrease 39.15Decrease
127 / 405
2011 464,512Increase 39.34Increase
103 / 412
2015 583,069Increase 40.34Increase
126 / 431

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Warren I. Cohen; Li Zhao (1997-05-28). Hong Kong Under Chinese Rule: The Economic and Political Implications of Reversion. ISBN 978-0-521-62761-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Wing-kai Chiu, Stephen. Lui, Tai-Lok. The Dynamics of Social Movement in Hong Kong. [2000] (2000). Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 962-209-497-X.
  3. Pepper, Suzanne (15 November 2010). "Poltiking Hong Kong Style". Retrieved 3 April 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Luk, Eddie (17 September 2012). "Change on way for Democrats, says Sin". The Standard. Retrieved 3 April 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Jensen, Lionel M. Weston, Timothy B. [2006] (2006). China's Transformations: The Stories Beyond the Headlines. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-7425-3863-X.
  6. Note: Each voter was given two votes in the 1991 Election.