June 21, 2018
20 political parties will be participating in Cambodia’s rapidly approaching national election, far more than the eight that contested in the last election in 2013.
The Cambodian People’s Party headed by “strongman” Hun Sen, who has ruled for 33 years, is widely viewed as having no credible challenger in the upcoming elections after the dissolution of the country’s main opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party in November last year.
Foreign backers of the election have withdrawn funding, and exiled former opposition leader Sam Rainsy has previously called on Cambodians to boycott the election.
Some of the parties have also found themselves under scrutiny, with several denying allegations that they were established to add legitimacy to the election, The Phnom Penh Post reported.
Here is some information on who will be contesting in the July 29 election.
Cambodian Youth Party
A relatively young political party, the Cambodian Youth Party was established in 2015 by Pich Sros to address issues faced by Cambodia’s youth, whom he felt were neglected by other parties, The Khmer Times reported.
Though small, the party rose to prominence last year due to a series of legal complaints filed by its leader, including a complaint calling for the dissolution of the CNRP, The Phnom Penh Post reported.
A policy document released on Facebook earlier this year promised better education, healthcare and paved roads near Cambodia’s borders.
Cambodian People’s Party
The Cambodian People’s Party under current Prime Minister Hun Sen was founded in 1951 under the name Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Party (KPRP).
Renamed the CPP in 1991, it lost the 1993 general election to the royalist Funcinpec party, only to wrest power back in 1997 in a bloody coup. Though the party has held power ever since, the legitimacy of the Cambodia’s election results have been questioned.
With the dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party in November last year, the CPP is widely expected to win the July election.
Cambodian Nationality Party
A minor party, the Cambodian Nationality Party currently holds two seats in the National Assembly despite winning only 0.58 per cent of the vote in the last election, a share so small it should not have entitled the party to a single seat The Phnom Penh Post reported. The seats were given to party lawmakers after the CNRP was dissolved.
Khmer National United Party
The Khmer National United Party was formed in 2016 by former Funcinpec party deputy president Nhek Bun Chhay after a disagreement with Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
The party said that it will consider allowing same-sex marriage during a roundtable event last year, The Phnom Penh Post reported.
Funcinpec is a royalist party set up in the 1981 by Prince Norodom Sihanouk. Though Funcinpec won the 1993 election, Hun Sen and his CPP refused to accept the result, leading to the formation of a coalition headed by Sihanouk’s son, Norodom Ranariddh, as first prime minister, and Hun Sen as the second.
The uneasy alliance fell apart four years later in a violent coup which greatly diminished the party’s military strength, and Funcinpec has since failed to achieve the success it enjoyed in the 1993 election.
Khmer United Party
The Khmer United Party was recently established by Kem Rithisith and Kuch Ly. Initially named after Kem Rithisith’s brother, the political commentator Kem Ley, the party changed its name in order to comply with a law banning political parties from being named after a person, The Phnom Penh Post reported.
The party has expressed support for the Sam Rainsy-led Cambodia National Rescue Movement, a now-illegal movement initially established to oppose the government’s ongoing political crackdown and secure the release of jailed opposition leader Kem Sokha. However, it has no links to the movement.
Grassroots Democratic Party
The Grassroots Democracy Party (GDP) was founded by prominent analyst Kem Ley in order to promote democracy in Cambodia, according to the Cambodia Daily.
Its 125-point policy document created earlier this year includes a proposal to impose term limits on political offices, The Phnom Penh Post reported.
League for Democracy Party
The League of Democracy Party was established in 2005 by Khem Veasna, previously a member of the Sam Rainsy Party.
According to the Phnom Penh Post, he has been criticised in the past for his controversial comments against the monkhood.
Khmer Economic Development Party
Having won only 0.29 per cent of the vote in the 2013 election, the Khmer Economic Development Party lacked the popularity to bag even one seat in the National Assembly. However, as with the Cambodian Nationality Party, the KEDP was gifted a single seat after the CNRP was disbanded, The Phnom Penh Post reported.
Other registered parties include the Khmer Anti-Poverty Party, the Dharmacracy Party,the Republican Democratic Party,Our Motherland Party, the Khmer Rise Party, the Khmer Will Party, the Khmer Republican Party, the Raksmey Khemara Party and the Cambodia Indigenous People’s Democracy Party.