A CPP survey of voters is an under-the-table attempt to influence next year’s commune elections, a Sam Rainsy Party leader said Friday.
“Such a big test, done by local authorities, is not right. It certainly has an effect on the commune elections,” Sam Rainsy Party Deputy President Kong Koam said.
The survey, conducted in Phnom Penh, contained pictures of prospective CPP candidates and asked voters to pick a candidate they would vote for, Kong Koam said.
Chey Salong, Chamkar Mon district’s CPP governor, defended the surveys, saying they were legal and a good way for the CPP to select the best candidates, and give potential voters an early look at their would-be leaders.
With the elections scheduled for February, the survey gives an unfavorable “imbalance” to the ruling party because the Sam Rainsy Party can not afford similar polls, Kong Koam said.
Opposition party officials recently told provincial activists that the party does not have enough money to help fund campaigns for commune election candidates.
Kong Koam said while his party conducts voter surveys, they are more “general” and less “clear” than the survey conducted by the ruling CPP. He said future party surveys should be handled by the National Election Committee.
But Chey Salong said the pictures will help voters identify their candidates and observe their behavior to determine if they would make good commune chiefs. Under the law, any party can conduct an election survey to field its most popular candidate, said Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara, a CPP central committee member. Similar surveys are being conducted in the provinces, but they don’t show candidates’ pictures.
Co-Minister of the Interior and a Funcinpec leader You Hockry also defended the CPP survey. “Any party needs the most popular candidate,” You Hockry said. He said the survey won’t influence the elections, since in a “real election,” people “would vote for whom they love.”
Funcinpec has done surveys to find its best candidates by having monks popular with voters conduct the polls, You Hockry said.