Ten days before the national election, Phnom Penh residents seemed more confident about revealing their political allegiances to pollsters than in the preceding two months.
In the latest poll of voter intention, conducted July 16 and released Monday by the French Institute of Statistics, Public Opinion and Research, only a third of those questioned in the capital declined to give an opinion. In a survey taken May 27, nearly two-thirds refused to answer.
“People are becoming more courageous,” Institute Director Huy Sophan said Monday. “You see many people in the streets for rallies. No one has compelled them to come.”
However, an overall 60 percent of those polled in the the capital and the provinces still wouldn’t give an opinion.
In Phnom Penh, voters favored the Sam Rainsy Party far ahead of Funcinpec and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, according to the survey. More than 32 percent would vote for the Sam Rainsy Party, with 19 percent supporting Funcinpec and 8 percent choosing the CPP.
“If the election was just in Phnom Penh, I think Sam Rainsy would definitely win,” Huy Sophan said. The group says it is an independent polling agency.
When the Phnom Penh results were included with figures from the provinces, however, the results were much less conclusive, placing the three leading parties within 3 percent of each other. Previously, the Institute said 3 percent was its margin of error. That means with less than a week to go, the three main parties are running neck-and-neck.
But the results must be viewed with caution, Huy Sophan said, because so many voters overall remained noncommittal. “It was difficult to get respondents on their own and they would not answer us when others were listening,” he explained.
The results suggest the CPP has lost ground in the past two months, while Funcinpec has strengthened its position. Funcinpec is the only party that has become more popular with each poll, and its support is strongest among farmers. Support for the Sam Rainsy Party has remained fairly constant.
Monday’s is the last of five polls that asked voters which party they would vote for if they could vote freely. It included responses from 3,539 voters in Phnom Penh and seven provinces.
Huy Sophan intends to continue “as a spokesman of the population” after the elections. “I would like the future government to know the feeling of the people on many questions,” he said, citing environmental issues among those he intends to address.
His ambitions for the institute depend on funding to ensure the institute stays neutral, he added. “I will also ask the people what they think about the new government. But first I will give the government time to do something.”