The mass resignation of pandemocratic legislators protesting against the disqualification of four of their number takes Hong Kong back 23 years, to the handover of the British colony to China and an appointed legislature boycotted by the democrats in 1997-1998.

In the more than two decades since then, the pro-democracy forces have been a thorn in the side of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region administration and of the Chinese government as they kept winning a majority of the votes while reaping only a minority of the seats. Still, their numbers grew and, in 2016, they won 30 of the 70 seats.

This year, following the large-scale 2019 government protests, there was hope that, finally, they may win a majority in September. The democrats talked of blocking all government initiatives, including the budget, and forcing Chief Executive Carrie Lam to resign.