A strong and revitalized Funcinpec could mean problems for the CPP and its role as the lead partner in the government’s two-party coalition.
While Prince Sirivudh’s main goal is to reorganize the party, some CPP members are wary about whether Funcinpec also aims to renegotiate the way power and wealth is calculated and shared within the coalition, one political observer said.
“Changing the status of the coalition is a big question mark,” the observer said. “The CPP feels very funny, but cautious [about Sirivudh]. And some in Funcinpec may eventually choose to stay with the CPP rather than with Sirivudh.”
But when asked about a potential renegotiation of the coalition, Prince Sirivudh said maintaining the coalition is very important for Funcinpec and for Cambodia. Funcinpec will continue a “political struggle” against CPP and other parties, but in a non-confrontational way.
He recalled the deadlock in the aftermath of the 1998 national elections, before Funcinpec agreed to joined with the CPP in a coalition, after international assistance had dried up. Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party had protested the vote counting that made CPP the winner.
“Shaking hands means stability,” Prince Sirivudh said. “Competition will prepare us to be involved in a peaceful way….But that peaceful spirit doesn’t mean laissez-faire.”
Issues like violence against candidates and voter and candidate registration are raised in the CPP-Funcinpec committee handling issues between the parties, he said. But that doesn’t mean the media needs to be informed every time Funcinpec officials disagree with the CPP, he said.
“We don’t feel the need to be noisy. Some people like to be noisy, but Funcinpec chooses to be discreet,” he said. “But being quiet does not mean that we don’t have any deep concern or that we have no vision.”