Sunday’s elections were not all about fears of violence and intimidation.
Outside the Royal University of Phnom Penh, a steady trickle of voters pulled up on foot or by motorbike with registration cards and came out a few minutes later with ink-black fingers—a measure to prevent people from voting twice—and often with smiles on their faces.
“I can choose what my future is like,” said Heng Pon Lork, a Telstra employee who emerged from the polling station with her elderly mother in tow.
Election monitors and agents from all political parties reported no significant irregularities or intimidation at Tuk La’ak I commune, and the atmosphere was festive. Vendors had set up shop just outside the polling station, selling mangoes and other treats.
Tuk La’ak I commune was one of only six in the nation to host candidate debates organized by the Khmer Institute for Democracy and National Democratic Institute. Residents who had seen the debate last Thursday said it had been helpful.
“It was a good opportunity for each representative to show their ideas to the voters,” said Heng Eng, a 45-year-old teacher.
Other voters, like carpenter Samong Chanton, got their information mostly from television programs, which typically focus on national platforms.
“It’s a good way to improve Cambodian society,” he said of the elections.