The National Election Committee on Wednesday released final results for the April 1 commune elections, showing that Funcinpec’s commune council membership has plummeted and the SRP now holds the most commune positions after the ruling CPP.
Funcinpec, which held the most seats after the CPP in 2002, now occupies only 274, or 2.4 percent of seats, out of 11,353 commune council seats across the nation. That figure compares to Funcinpec’s 2,211, or 19.6 percent of seats, out of 11,261 after the 2002 commune elections.
Funcinpec’s number of commune chief positions also dropped from 10 in 2002 to just two.
More people cast votes for the Norodom Ranariddh Party than for Funcinpec, giving the NRP 425 seats, or 3.7 percent of commune council posts. The NRP, however, does not have any commune chiefs.
Funcinpec’s heaviest losses were in Kompong Cham and Prey Veng provinces, the two provinces where the NRP won the highest number of seats. The SRP also significantly upped its number of seats in Kompong Cham province, where it now has seven commune chiefs—more than in any other province.
SRP commune council seats went from 1,346 in 2002 to 2,660 on April 1, capturing 23.4 percent of all seats. The SRP more than doubled its number of commune chiefs, from 13 to 28.
The CPP now heads 1,591 of the country’s 1,621 communes, just seven fewer than their 1,598 in 2002, though the CPP upped its total seats from 7,703 in the last elections to 7,993.
The Hang Dara Democratic Movement Party, which fielded candidates in 133 communes, has one second deputy commune chief in Kandal province.
Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero said that his party accepts the results of the election, though the loss of seats has been sobering. “Funcinpec broke into pieces,” he said, referring to the Oct 18 ousting of Prince Ranariddh as leader of Funcinpec and his subsequent establishment of the NRP. Funcinpec is hopeful for progress in the future, he said.
Prince Ranariddh’s public affairs adviser Ok Socheat said the NRP could have garnered twice as many votes if the prince—who has remained abroad since he was sentenced in absentia to 18 months in prison for breach of trust on March 13—had been able to return to the country to campaign.
Despite the SRP’s broadened hold at the commune level, Secretary-General Mu Sochua said the party is not satisfied with the official election results. “The results cannot be accepted because of some very serious irregularities that were ignored by the NEC,” she said, adding that the 31 SRP complaints appealed to the NEC were rejected due to lack of evidence.
NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha defended the neutrality of the NEC complaint process, but said that the electoral body is discussing ways to improve the voter list.
CPP Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said that the CPP recognizes the official results.
Referring to confusion during the registration period and at the polls, he said that difficulties are to be expected when any system is changed. “Anywhere in the world [you] can’t expect 100 percent perfect,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Pin Sisovann and Lor Chandara)