CPP Could Benefit From Newly Created Phnom Penh Districts

The CPP could win 37 more district councilor positions than it would have done before the creation of three new districts in Phnom Penh last year, and the opposition CNRP could gain 14, if the city’s 810 councilors vote along party lines in elections set for May.

Last week, the government passed a sub-decree outlining the number of councilors to be elected in each of Phnom Penh’s 12 districts in the May ballot, including in the new districts of Chroy Changva, Chbar Ampov and Prek Pnov.

According to the sub-decree, and assuming Phnom Penh’s commune councilors vote along party lines, the CPP is set to win 155—or 71.76 percent—of the 216 district council positions across the city.

The remaining 61 positions will be picked up by the opposition CNRP on the back of votes from commune councilors from the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties.

The CPP’s take would be proportionate to the 118 seats—or or 71.56 percent—of the 165 that the party would have won in the election without the creation of the three new districts.

The CPP government announced on December 17 that three new districts would be carved out of Phnom Penh’s existing nine in time for city and district council elections, in which only commune councilors vote, but the number of councilors each district would receive was not specified.

Sak Setha, secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior in charge of decentralization, has said that the new districts were created only to improve administration in Phnom Penh.

Son Chhay, chief whip of the CNRP, however, said that the change would clearly create more lucrative positions for the CPP to fill with its members.

“It’s the same old story, they’re making new departments to create new positions for their people,” he said. “New positions means new money, but we concentrate more on the long-term.”

Of the new districts created by the government in December, Chbar Ampov would have a council composed of 13 CPP members and 6 from the CNRP, while Chroy Changva would have 11 CPP members and 4 from the CNRP. Prek Pnov would elect a council of 13 CPP members and two CNRP members.

The existing districts from which the new districts were cut will see no changes made to their composition, except for Sen Sok district, which is the only district to receive new council positions.

Its two council seats will increase the CNRP’s take in the district to a total of six compared to the CPP’s unchanged 13.

Russei Keo will remain with its 12 to 7 split for the ruling party, and Meanchey will see a 13-to-6 split. Pur Senchey district will see a division of 16 to 3 in favor of the ruling party.

Mr. Chhay said, however, that the CNRP was not too concerned about the results of this May’s elections, which the party accepts the CPP will win with its hold on the communes.

“We are looking forward to three years’ time, in the 2017 commune elections, where we believe we win a landslide,” Mr. Chhay said.

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