Efforts by the ruling CPP to drastically cut the time allowed for political campaigning leading up to elections were once again met with resistance on Friday by the opposition CNRP during electoral reform talks at the National Assembly.
CNRP official Kuoy Bunroeun, who is leading the opposition delegation in the drafting of a new election law, said the CPP’s latest proposal—cutting the campaign period from a month to three weeks, with only four days for public rallies—was unacceptable.
“We actually want political parties to have more chances to participate in disseminating their parties’ policies to voters to decide,” Mr. Bunroeun told reporters following the closed-door talks.
“We want more than 30 days, it means we proposed 45 days,” he said. “In case it sounds too long, we could keep the experience of existing law that lasts 30 days.”
Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin, the head of the ruling party’s delegation, cited traffic congestion as the reason for the CPP’s position, refuting suggestions that his party was attempting to restrict public rallies after the CNRP’s highly successful campaign prior to the 2013 national election.
“I have said before CPP is not scared,” Mr. Chhin told reporters. “If [we] wanted a big rally for many days, we could do it. But we think about the public interest; that people get bored with our rallies.”
Mr. Chhin also pointed to short election campaigns in countries such as Sweden and Japan.
“In Japan, the campaign is just made with a vehicle with just a few people because they just read out the political policies, but they work with Facebook and Twitter,” he said.
But Mr Bunroeun said reducing the number of days allowed for rallies would make congestion worse, not better.
“If they don’t have the option [of when to join rallies], people would rush to rally at the same time. Thus we see this could cause trouble. It would cause a higher level of traffic congestion,” he said.
The CPP has given some ground on the issue since a meeting of the working groups on January 12, when it proposed cutting the campaign period to two weeks with public rallies allowed only on the first and last days.