Albert Ho Chun-yan's name is to go forward as the democratic camp's choice to be Hong Kong's next chief executive.
The Democratic Party chief received more than 65 percent of 33,932 votes cast by permanent residents at 74 polling facilities outside MTR stations yesterday in a "primary election" ahead of March 25 voting by the Election Committee.
The 22,148 votes cast for him in the unprecedented electronic poll that ran from 10am to 7pm were more than double what pan-democratic rival Frederick Fung Kin-kee of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood received. He had 10,791 votes.
A third option - to abstain - was the choice of 993 people.
The turnout was much higher than what organizers expected.
They estimated there would be 20,000 people in an exercise to choose a democratic candidate for what is known to be a lost cause: a Beijing- backed establishment figure is sure to be the next chief executive because of the composition of the 1,200-member Election Committee.
But the exercise in democracy at the grassroots was heartening for the organizers, with "polling booths" comprising a small table and a laptop or tablet computer shielded by a piece of cardboard or in some cases a volunteer worker's jacket.
Those taking part had to provide identity card numbers to deter people from voting twice.
Ho said he had beaten a strong and respected competitor in Fung as he vowed to challenge the establishment candidates on important topics during pre-election debates.
"They have to answer questions on property, financial and public utility hegemony," Ho declared.
On that, he added, establishment candidates need to state whether they agree that the Legislative Council should "use the Powers and Privileges Ordinance to check on them."
The voting followed on from a poll conducted by the University of Hong Kong's Public Opinion Programme between January 3 and 6.
In that one, Ho received 271 votes and Fung 181 from 1,008 respondents, with more than half abstaining.
On the high number of abstentions in that poll, Ho said it was because many people know the process of choosing a chief executive is a small-circle election and that a democrat has no chance.
Fung, meanwhile, accepted his loss without grumbles. "Of course, I hope Ho will make reference to my election platform," he said.
The polling process went relatively smoothly despite some delays caused by glitches in internet systems, with Kwun Tong one of them.
And Yeung Sum, a member of the organizing committee, said disruptions by protesters belonging to the League of Social Democrats and People Power did not deter people from voting.
Ho and Fung had called for public support outside a polling booth in Wan Chai in the morning and found themselves facing more than 20 hostile protesters from the two radical groups, who criticized them for being associated with a small-circle election.
The protesters spent most of the time holding banners to warn people there was a danger if their ID cards were seen.
And Lee Cheuk-yan, leader of the newly formed Labour Party, said his members did not vote in the primary as they are against the small-circle election.
Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang decided not to cast a vote after a brief appearance in Wan Chai. The booth was "too open," she complained.
Another former chief secretary did not even get that far. Establishment candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen simply said he didn't vote. Neither did Leung Chun-ying, the former Executive Council convener who at this stage is the other leading candidate for chief executive.