Having lost the vast majority of their seats in both the 2007 commune election and this July’s national election, Funcinpec is considering an alliance with the Norodom Ranariddh Party to boost the royalists’ chances in next May’s district and provincial councilor poll, officials said Sunday.
Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay said his party’s members are looking to link up with the NRP as a way to gather more votes for May’s election, during which commune councilors will select the district and provincial/ municipal councilors.
“There’s been information that party members want to unite with the Norodom Ranariddh Party; I don’t have any objection to the union,” Nhiek Bun Chhay said by telephone. “We have talked about it, [but] we have not reached a conclusion about uniting the two parties yet.”
“We will receive benefits if we unite,” he added.
According to Funcinpec First Vice President Lu Laysreng, his party “wants to establish an alliance,” adding that it was also “right” to link the two parties together.
Lu Laysreng added, however, that despite supporting the idea, he saw little benefit ultimately coming from such an alliance because Prince Norodom Ranariddh—the founder and charismatic focal point of the NRP—resigned from the party in September. The loss of the prince means that many NRP supporters will likely return to Funcinpec, he said.
The most successful party in the 1993 election, Funcinpec has seen its hold on elected and appointed positions steadily erode in each successive mandate. In late 2006,
Prince Ranariddh was ousted from the presidency of Funcinpec, prompting the spurned royal to form the NRP, thereby dividing the royalist vote. The effects of that split have been heavily felt by Funcinpec, which lost more than 87 percent of its commune councilor positions in 2007 and had its foothold in the National Assembly reduced from 26 seats to just two this year.
The NRP has done little better, picking up 425 commune councilor positions to Funcinpec’s 274. By way of comparison, the CPP now has 7,993 commune councilors.
NRP spokesman Suth Dina said there have been talks between the two parties about a possible alliance, but no decision has been reached.
He also expressed optimism that an alliance could better the royalists’ chances in the coming May election.