A Change of Guard

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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Post-local election will be a tough fight for CNRP in next year general election

By Khmer Wathanakam

The most intense local election competition has done with a result of unfavorable for both leading parties-- CNRP and CPP-- though CPP can manage to maintain about 70 per cent of their commune chiefs or 1,165 communes and sangkats, CNRP has wrestled to regain more than 400 commune chiefs from the CPP.  And the popular votes CNRP got 45 per cent while CPP received 48 per cent and the other 10 small parties received the combined popular votes 7 per cent according to unofficial data from NGO. However, the NEC did not reveal the number of seats each party received yet. But they expect The CPP will receive at least 6,000 seats and CNRP will receive over 5,000. At the same time both parties have claimed their popular votes have increased from previous election in 2013. nonetheless according to NGO, CPP still maintain their votes from 2013: about 3.3 million votes while CNRP have increased their vote to 3.15 million votes, closer to CPP.  Now we have seen that the gap of popular votes between the two major parties get closer from term to term even if CPP still hold power firmly in both local and national levels. How can CNRP try to break this iceberg, meaning to close the gap of popular votes and win over the CPP which has ruled the country nearly 40 years. If election is hold freely and fairly as if in the Western democracies, CNRP would win landslide since 2013, but the political environment in Cambodia is very tight and dangerous. CNRP, the largest opposition in the country has been persecuted severely from the ruling party, CPP: their leader Sam Rainsy was forced in exile in the third times and many CNRP's activists and human right defenders were jailed without reason. Thus, how can CNRP manage to win the national election in 2018 without a fair playing field?

The CPP still has its ill will to destroy its rival, CNRP, at all cost. In the next couple months, there will be more campaigns to weaken and destroy CNRP plotted by the CPP. Especially, its president Kem Sokha who had numerous pending cases against him in Hun Sen's control court. And the new commune chiefs and council members from CNRP will face more obstacles to run their communes too. The CPP may not provide enough fund to develop any commune run by CNRP, and they face with unfair accusation of corruption, crime, and any activity that the CPP can manipulate.