Some departing lawmakers said they planned to return to their day jobs, finding ways to channel them into forms of protest. Dennis Kwok, one of the four ousted legislators, said he would continue working as a lawyer, taking on human rights cases. Wu Chi-wai, who resigned, said he would stay on as head of his political party.
But Mr. Wu acknowledged that their efforts outside of the legislature would most likely be more fragmented.
The pro-democracy camp had discussed keeping their seats, to be able to question government officials, draw on the resources of their offices and have access to official information, said Claudia Mo, another lawmaker who stepped down.
But she said the group ultimately decided that it was more important to show solidarity with their ousted colleagues, and to make clear that they saw the legislature increasingly as a rubber stamp for Beijing.
Even some lawmakers who supported the disqualification of the four lawmakers expressed concern about the mass resignations, indicating that the Legislative Council could lose legitimacy without an opposition faction. Felix Chung, the leader of the pro-Beijing Liberal Party, told reporters that the mass departures were “not healthy.”
“Everywhere in the world, the government always has opposition voices,” Mr. Chung said, as word spread on Wednesday of likely resignations. “If they all leave, I don’t know what will happen to Hong Kong.”
But Tommy Cheung, another Liberal Party member, disputed the idea that the pro-democracy members’ exits would leave the legislature with one voice. He noted that members of his party, which advocates business interests, had fought the government on raising the minimum wage and on granting statutory paternity leave.
“We were basically the opposition when it comes to nutrition labeling,” he said.