Democratic Party members early today voted by a wide margin in favor of backing the government's political reform package after a heated five-hour debate.
However, it was not immediately known if all of the party's nine lawmakers will support the decision.
Some 79 percent of the 314 votes were for the government's proposed amendments to the Legislative Council 2012 election methods while 76 percent supported the proposed changes to the way of electing the chief executive, the party said.
Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said: "The decision is not just a historical one for the Democratic Party, but also a milestone for the city's progress in democracy."
Martin Lee Chu-ming, the party's founder, who earlier threatened to quit the party if it backed the package, emerged from the meeting shortly after midnight and said he needs time to make a decision. Lee said he wants to "give the matter a lot of thought" and "don't want to make a mistake."
But he said he felt regret that members vetoed his demand for putting off the general meeting for two weeks.
Lee's resignation would likely deepen divisions within the party. The meeting came hours after Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen announced a revised political reform plan in a last-ditch effort to break the deadlock between the government and moderate democrats.
The Democrat proposal, accepted by Beijing and the government, is for the five new Legco district council seats to be nominated by elected district councillors and then voted on by those who do not have a functional constituency vote. Pledges by Democrat leaders to get the party to support the package has opened deep rifts in the pan- democratic camp.
Dozens of League of Social Democrats protesters tried to storm the Professional Teachers' Union's Causeway Bay branch where last night's meeting was being held.
They demanded to speak to Ho. Dozens of police maintained order.
League lawmaker Leung Kwok- hung and several fellow members stepped onto a roasted pigeon outside the meeting. The Democratic Party logo is a flying dove. Demonstrators held up placards accusing seven Democrat legislators of being "democracy sinners" and put banners on railings. Lawmakers Andrew Cheng Kar-foo and James To Kun-sun were not included as they have yet to decide whether to toe the party line.
Cheng said he will make public his voting stance tomorrow at the latest. He will also say whether he will quit the party. To said he feared it will be more difficult to scrap functional constituencies in the future after these five Legco functional seats are added. But party elder Szeto Wah warned that lawmakers have to vote according to the party's decision or be disciplined.
At the meeting, attended by more than 200 members, Lee's call to put off the general meeting for two weeks was voted down.
Meanwhile, all five Civic Party lawmakers said they will vote against the revised political reform package. The decision came after a meeting of some 80 members last night.
The government is expected to at least get 45 votes - five more than the required 40 or two-thirds majority at the 60-member Legco.