In theory, national elections in Cambodia on July 23 present little risk of a surprise. Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which has held power since 1979, is set to once again win all of the 125 seats in the National Assembly.
This would be the same result as the previous national election in 2018; the use of the same anti-democratic measures is likely to lead to the same outcome. In 2023, as in 2018, Hun Sen has taken steps to eliminate the main opposition party from the competition.
At the last election in which it was allowed to participate, the local elections of 2017, despite serious electoral manipulation in favor of the ruling CPP, the opposition won 44 percent of the vote. It would certainly have won these elections, and the national election the following year, had an honest counting process taken place. The Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) could not contest the 2018 elections having been suddenly accused of “treason” and dissolved in November 2017. A few months later, without any competition, the CPP won every single seat in the National Assembly.