Smaller Parties Left Out in New Poll Formula

A barely debated change in the formula allotting National As­sembly posts will give seats to the larger parties that would have gone to smaller ones in 1993.

At best, those familiar with the new system say, it is simply less democratic. But in application, the new system for doling out seats changes how nearly one-third of the 122 National As­sembly seats will be decided.

It also allows smaller parties in Cambodia’s crowded multiparty system virtually no chance to get a seat in all but six provinces.

“The only parties that have a chance in this system are Fun­cinpec, the CPP and Sam Rain­sy,” said Peter Schier, a political observer and permanent representative with the Konrad Aden­auer Foundation, which has analyzed the new system.

Cambodia runs on a proportional representation system, meaning a candidate needs a portion of the vote, and not a majority, to get into office. Typically, this system allocates seats by the percentage of the vote a party ob­tains.

The government tinkered with the 1993 Untac system by changing how “spare” seats, those not won outright by a party, are handed out. This, in turn, has in­creased the percentage a party needs to even win a seat.

For example, two parties contesting Phnom Penh’s 12 National Assembly seats may get 2.4 votes worth of seats and 0.6 votes worth of seats. Under the Untac plan, the party with 2.4 would get two seats and the one with 0.6 would get one.


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