Thailand’s return of migrant Cambodian workers is boosting voter registration in two northwestern provinces, Funcinpec’s campaign chief said Thursday.
Nhiek Bun Chhay, a popular Funcinpec senator who returned last week from a trip to Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces, said that the two provinces were enjoying a swell of registration, as workers who typically migrate to Thailand this time of year have returned home.
The Thai-Cambodian border has been closed to all but daily foot traffic since the anti-Thai riots in Phnom Penh last month.
Battambang and Banteay Meanchey had until the border closure seen the poorest registration results, but now they are reaching higher levels, Nhiek Bun Chhay said.
“I am happy with this,” he said, adding that Funcinpec’s base of grassroots voters would improve the royalist party’s results in the July national elections.
Nhiek Bun Chhay has been cast as the top Assembly candidate for Battambang. The senator enjoys wide popularity in the northwest, where he led resistance fighters in the 1980s and in 1997 and 1998.
“At the grassroots level, through my country visit, I’ve found that the grassroots Funcinpec supporters have turned out and registered and the party is still strong,” he said. “So I hope that the party will get the victory and that we can gain even more seats in the National Assembly.”
The party would be helped by the addition this election of a radio station, which could broaden the party’s support base in the provinces, the senator said.
“The party can send a political message, so this radio is helpful to the party,” he said.
Battambang has 96 communes, with an 81.6 percent registration rate as of Friday, according to the National Election Committee. Banteay Meanchey, with 64 communes, has a rate of 84.9 percent. Battambang is estimated to house more than 490,000 eligible voters; Banteay Meanchey has more than 347,000, according to the NEC.