Cambodia Election Watchdogs See How It’s Done in Sweden

A group of Cambodian election officials said they had a lot of surprises last week when they went to observe Sweden’s parliamentary elections.

One of the most amazing things some said they saw on the week-long trip was a group of 9-year-old children asking party members about their platforms.

“I saw the older people explaining to the children about their political principles,” said Ung Yok Khoan, a board member from the watchdog Coalition for Free and Fair Elections. The children, she said, asked how party members would take care of their schools.

For some of the visitors, the sight was as inspirational as it was ama­zing. “If Cambo­dians can in­stall education like that in school it can help build de­mocracy,” said Leav Sa­koeun, monitoring coordinator for the election watchdog, the Com­mit­tee for Free and Fair Elections in Cam­bo­dia.

The Swedish International De­vel­op­ment Cooperation Agen­cy,  in coordination with the Swedish NGO Forum Syd paid, for the six Cambodians’ trip. The goal was to see how elections are conducted elsewhere, said Sony Ost­berg, field director of Forum Syd.

Members of Comfrel, Coffel, the National Election Committee and the Neutral and Independent Committee for Free and Fair El­ec­tions in Cambodia participated.

The trip occurred as winning Cambodian parties from the July 26 elections met for the first time in Siem Reap to discuss how to break a political deadlock and form a government.

The visitors also expressed surprise about the campaign. The parties discussed their political plat­forms in detail, Ung Yok Khoan said. “They did not spend time blaming each other.”

The Cambodians also commented on the two hours it took the Swedes to do a preliminary count. The Cambodian NEC took ten days. The results were then an­nounced on television as Swedes from different parties cheered or booed, Leav Sakoeun said. “There, members from different parties can be friends.”




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