As The Economist went to press, the streets were no longer filled with tens of thousands of demonstrators. Many had grown too tired, and some too dispirited, to carry on.
Student leaders are eager to consolidate the sympathy they gained on September 28th, when police used tear gas on demonstrators, and on October 3rd, when pro-government thugs began provoking scuffles with protesters. They have therefore agreed to talks with the government, even though officials have shown no sign of willingness to make any concessions. Much-reduced numbers of demonstrators still block a few roads, but the government seems inclined to let them. The longer protesters do so, it apparently believes, the more they risk losing support among those whose lives are disrupted.
Some on the government's side say the students' scorn for the governments in Hong Kong and Beijing proves that truly competitive democracy would not work because it might produce a leader who does not get on with the central leadership. Tsang Yok-sing, the president of the Legislative Council (Legco), says the protests "will only convince China that they have made a correct decision" to restrict political freedoms.