Seat Allotment Vexes Nation’s Poll Watchers

A more sophisticated version of the formula used to calculate National Assembly seats ap­peared to have emerged Thurs­day night, causing confusion at one of the leading Cambodian election watchdogs.

“We received these regulations this afternoon,” said Thun Saray, the first representative of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections. “I don’t know who is wrong and who is right.”

The new mathematical formula would result in anywhere from four to five more seats for the CPP, according to Comfrel. The election watchdog had projected the CPP would win 59 seats, but by Thursday afternoon had revised the figure to 64.

“I think this can become a problem and that opposition parties will be very angry about this,” said Sok Samoeun, a Com­frel official. “The [National Election Committee] issued the regulations to use the first formula, then they put out another one. They look the same, but they are different.”

A long-time political observer confirmed the existence of a new version of the formula. He said he picked up a copy from the NEC on Thursday.

Using the new version, the number of seats would result in an absolute majority for the CPP in the National Assembly, but it would still be short of the two-thirds majority necessary to form a new government.

Comfrel officials and the political observer said they had been told the formula was approved about two months ago.

A top NEC official said Thurs­day night he was not aware of any new version. “The formula in use is the one as written in the electoral law,” said NEC Vice-Chairman Kassie Neou.

The formula prescribed in the electoral law used to calculate seats is called the highest average: it favors parties that have received the highest number of votes. The latest version of the formula favors the winning party even more by calculating the highest average for each remaining seat.

(Additional reporting Debra Boyce)


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