The ruling CPP is losing votes in remote provinces while making up ground on the opposition CNRP in Phnom Penh and surrounding areas, according to election data showing the two major parties cutting into each other’s leads in traditional strongholds.
“The CPP worked so hard, especially in Kandal province. The prime minister is the leader there so his province needs to be better,” said political analyst Cham Bunthet, referencing Prime Minister Hun Sen’s base in Kandal’s Takhmao City.
Compared to results from the 2013 national election, the CPP gained 6.3 percentage points in Phnom Penh, 10 in Kandal and 9.8 in Kompong Speu on Sunday, wresting a slim majority in the latter two provinces, according to the National Election Committee’s results for 1,290 communes, or about 78 percent of the total.
“Another reason is they’ve paid for increasing wages to civil servants—teachers, police. I think they’re satisfied. They’re happy,” Mr. Bunthet said.
Garment factory workers have also seen their minimum wage rise in recent years, solidifying support for the ruling party near the capital, he said.
However, the CPP also lost 10 percentage points in Pailin province and 11 in Banteay Meanchey province, giving up the majority in the latter.
The ruling party is also losing ground in previous strongholds such as Mondolkiri, Stung Treng, Pursat and Koh Kong provinces.
Mr. Bunthet, who is an adviser to the minor Grassroots Democracy Party, said slow development in remote provinces was stoking dissatisfaction against the ruling party.
And migrant workers who move near the capital from those areas have a hard time with rent, electricity, travel costs and other bills compared to garment factory workers whose families live in Phnom Penh or Kandal, Mr. Bunthet added.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said the party would have to study why it did better in remote provinces, but insisted that its results in Phnom Penh were a success because the CNRP had retained a majority.
He added that the national election in 2013 could not be compared to Sunday’s local-level
“Overall we’re proud of our achievement…. Next year we predict victory,” Mr. Sovann said.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan could not be reached for comment.