Cambodia will hold its 2022 local election across 1,652 communes today. The overwhelming majority of communes are held by the
Cambodia will hold its 2022 local election across 1,652 communes today.
The overwhelming majority of communes are held by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) which has held power in various guises since 1979. Although Cambodia is nominally a constitutional monarchy, CPP leader Hun Sen’s 37-years as prime minister has been propped up in recent decades by jailing political opponents and repressing press freedoms effectively rendering the country a one-party state.
Thus, winning prospects for the main opposition Candlelight Party (CP) are slim. There is fertile political ground for the CP to win a sizeable proportion of the vote—especially in Cambodia’s rural central and north-western regions. Indeed, the main opposition party at the last commune elections in 2017—the now banned CNRP—won 43% of the vote and 31% of communal offices. Issues arise from how the State will respond should the CP repeat those results.
Given the post-election crackdown in 2017, should CP win a significant number of posts, expect party leaders to be jailed and the party forced to dissolve. Local polls are generally bellwethers for the general elections and a strong showing by CP would threaten Sen’s medium-term succession plans to gradually hand over power to his son.
Download the Daily Brief app to stay ahead of geopolitics with daily, short, forward-looking analysis of geopolitical events before they hit the headlines.