Local poll leaves Hun Sen looking vulnerable in 2018 election

Opposition CNRP youth activists at an election rally in Phnom Penh on June 2. (Photo by Duncan McCargo)

Local poll leaves Hun Sen looking vulnerable in 2018 election by Duncan McCargo, 08/06/2017, Nikkei Asian Review

Cambodia’s ruling party needs to woo disenchanted voters to retain hold on power.

The preliminary results of Cambodia’s June 4 local elections for its commune councils offer ambiguous signals for an all-important general election scheduled for July 2018.

Much depends on the choice of benchmark. In the 2012 elections for commune council chiefs, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party secured overwhelming control of local government, winning 1,592 contests with more than 70% of the vote, compared with just 40 contests won by opposition parties, which secured about 30% of the vote.

 By this standard, the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party’s twelvefold increase to 482 commune victories in 2017 is a remarkable turnaround, helped by the merger of the two opposition parties that challenged the ruling party in 2012.

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