Party System Proposed for Commune Vote

Voters in upcoming commune elections will cast their ballots for a party, rather than for an individual candidate, if an Interior Ministry proposal is adopted by the government, officials confirmed Tuesday.

Co-Minister Sar Kheng said in his speech Monday at the ministry’s internal workshop meeting that a draft of the commune legislation will soon be forwarded to the Council of Ministers, and that the upcoming commune election should be conducted the same way as the national elections of 1993 and 1998 in which people voted for a party.

Under the national election system, each party submits candidate lists, and seats at each commune council are awarded accord­ing to the percentage of votes each party received.

Prach Chan, director-general of the ministry’s administration department, confirmed Tuesday that ministry’s top officials agreed to hold the election with a system similar to the national polls.

Prum Sokha, secretary of state for the ministry, said the commune administration draft law will be submitted to the council for review in two weeks. It will determine the function of commune councils.

The draft of the commune election law, he added, needs more time to complete. He did not give a timetable. The commune election law will define how citizens vote for their representatives on commune councils and what will determine which candidate wins.

According to the draft of the commune administration law, voters will select five between five and 11 commune council members, instead of single commune chief. Additionally, each council would have the authority to manage its’ own budget and carry out rural development projects. Prum Sokha said the law is designed as a framework for decentralizing the government’s decision-making process.

Chea Vannath of the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections, known as Coffel, expressed concerns Tuesday over the proposed election system.

“How can they decentralize with such a system?” she asked. “The law is supposed to reflect people’s will. People want to vote for individuals, not for a party.”

(Additional reporting by Van Roeun)



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