On March 26, Hong Kong's next leader will be voted in by an Election Committee of 1,194 members. That only so few have a say reflects the failure of the 2014 Occupy Protests, where protesters demanded "one man, one vote" in choosing the chief executive.
But the experience has galvanised the pan-democratic, or pro-democracy camp, to be more pragmatic. Previously, they would cast blank votes to show that they do not support pro-establishment contenders. This time, they hold 326 votes - which is more than a quarter of the votes in the Election Committee - and are determined to make them count.
With the election featuring three pro-establishment figures - Mrs Carrie Lam, Mr John Tsang and Ms Regina Ip - for the first time, the pan-democrats could be the "kingmakers" in a tight race.
Former security chief Ip, 66, who won the most votes for a female lawmaker in last September's Legislative Council Election, was the first among the three to announce her candidacy, followed by Mr Tsang, 65, a former finance chief, and Mrs Lam, 59, a former chief secretary. Others include retired judge Woo Kwok Hing, 70, and radical pan-democrat Leung Kwok Hung, 60.
To become the next chief executive, at least 601 votes are needed. To qualify, each contender needs at least 150 nominations from the Election Committee made up of mostly pro-Beijing property tycoons, lawmakers as well as representatives of professional bodies and trade associations.
That's the challenge for all but Mrs Lam, who has been endorsed by Beijing. She has reportedly secured 300 to 400 nominations while Mr Tsang has 24 nominations from pan-democrats.
Mr Tsang, who is leading in popularity polls, is seen as the strongest contender to Mrs Lam.
Some see Beijing's move to name its preferred candidate as its bid to control the election, said Professor Lau Siu Kai, vice-chairman of the Beijing-backed Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies. And it is the pan-democrats' aim to stop Beijing's choice candidate from becoming the next chief executive.
"If John Tsang and Woo Kwok Hing are able to join the race, there may be unexpected results," said Prof Lau, referring to the duo deemed acceptable by the pan-democrats. That is because the next leader would be picked by a secret ballot system, which could see Mrs Lam's supporters switching sides.
Still, if Beijing had not declared its preferred candidate, it is unlikely that any contender would be able to win enough votes.
Last week, radical lawmaker Leung, better known as "Long Hair", declared his intention to run and urged pan-democrats not to vote for the other four contenders who "do not represent (the) pro-democracy camp".
But lawmaker Dennis Kwok, who is coordinating votes from the pan-democrats, told reporters the bloc is considering voting for Mr Tsang, Mr Woo and a third nominee picked from a mock online poll.
With nomination closing on March 1, pan-democrats should decide by next week, he said.
Critics have said Mr Leung's intention to run has further split the pan-democratic camp already faced with the dilemma of whether to support Mr Tsang. Some worry about the possible backlash from endorsing someone who wants to enact the unpopular national security law.
But with Mr Tsang having a huge lead in popularity polls, even if he turns out to be like incumbent Leung Chun Ying, whose policies are unpopular with Hong Kongers, the pan-democrats could say that the candidate they have endorsed was the people's choice.