National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh last week appealed to Sam Rainsy Party commune council members to vote for Funcinpec in the 2007 Senate elections if the SRP decides to boycott them.
But SRP officials and political observers said Sunday that such a strategy was unlikely to work.
SRP parliamentarian Eng Chhay Eang said Thursday that the party has not decided whether it will boycott the elections but called Prince Ranariddh’s idea “a dream.”
Opposition lawmakers and independent election monitors have for several months threatened to boycott the 2007 Senate elections because they are not public and open only to commune council members and National Assembly lawmakers. They allege that this makes the elections unfair and biased toward the ruling party.
Lon Siengly, chief of Toek La’ak II commune for SRP, said Sunday he would not vote because the result is a foregone conclusion.
“The election would be a waste of time and money,” he said. “A vote for Prince Ranariddh is a vote for Hun Sen,” adding that he supported the idea of a boycott.
Former Funcinpec parliamentarian Kem Sokha said Sunday that Prince Ranariddh’s idea was unlikely to appeal to many opposition lawmakers and was designed to help Funcinpec gain votes without taking them from the ruling CPP. “[Prince Ranariddh] doesn’t want to take votes from the CPP, only Sam Rainsy,” he said.
Chea Vannath, president of the Center for Social Development, said she could not predict whether Prince Ranariddh’s appeal would sway opposition lawmakers but said that if the boycott took place, it would be a blow to democracy.
“It affects the image of democracy that Cambodia is trying to promote,” she said. “It affects the image of stability, not in terms of violence but in terms of the maturity of the leaders.”
Some politicians and analysts have suggested that the lack of a viable opposition in the Senate elections is symptomatic of Cambodia’s overall lack of democratic development.