The country’s two main royalist political parties—Funcinpec and the Norodom Ranariddh Party—have decided to combine forces for May’s district and provincial council elections with an eye to a possible merger in the future, officials said Sunday.
Officials from the two parties met on Thursday to open talks and agreed to assist each other in the upcoming election, in which commune councilors will vote to choose the first-ever district, provincial and municipal councils, said Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay.
“We have agreed to unite with each other during the council election May 17,” he said.
He added that the two parties uniting to form a single party would make sense because the NRP was originally born out of Funcinpec. In late 2006, Prince Norodom Ranariddh formed the NRP shortly after being ousted from the presidency of Funcinpec, effectively splitting the royalist vote.
NRP spokesman Suth Dina confirmed that the discussions between the two parties were held and the two parties would cooperate for the May election.
For that election, Suth Dina said, NRP commune councilors will cast their votes for Funcinpec candidates in areas where Funcinpec has a greater number of commune councilors. In areas where the NRP is more dominant, Funcinpec councilors will cast their votes for the NRP.
“If we do not help each other we will not win the council election,” he said.
The royalists took a beating in the 2007 commune election, with Funcinpec carrying just 274, a whopping 87 percent drop from the 2,211 it held prior to the election. The NRP did better, but was still only able to capture 425 seats. By contrast, the CPP has 7,993 commune councilors.
Suth Dina added that if Funcinpec and the NRP were to become a single party, it would likely happen after the May poll.
“The merging of the two parties should be after the council election or depending on the political situation,” he said.