CNRP President Kem Sokha on Monday urged supporters of minority political parties not to “waste” votes and instead to join his party as the only credible challenger to the CPP, words dismissed as a false choice by one minor party leader.
Speaking to supporters in Kompong Thom province, Mr. Sokha said only the CPP and CNRP had a shot at winning the prime minister’s seat in next year’s election.
“It seems that no other parties have caught up with us,” he said. “Maybe you should not waste your votes. There are only two parties—one wants change while the other does not want change. For those who want change, come to the CNRP, and those who do not want change, please stay put.”
This was rejected by Yeng Virak, president of the Grassroots Democracy Party (GDP), who said the real choice facing voters was between the top-down management style of the two main parties and the GDP’s democratic approach.
“We exist and we continue to grow,” Mr. Virak said. “There will be a contest between two systems, not two parties.”
Mr. Sokha predicted that roughly 200,000 out of an estimated 300,000 Cambodians who were voting for the first time next year would choose his party.
He also estimated that 2 million migrant workers in Thailand, South Korea and elsewhere would register to vote for the national election and support the opposition.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan responded on Monday that the CNRP did not have a monopoly on migrants or young voters.
“Some will vote for the CPP and some will vote for the opposition party,” he said. “It is a mix.”
(Additional reporting by Ben Paviour)