The threat posed by Cambodia’s new strongman

Although 2024 is being heralded as a banner year for elections, with dozens of countries, representing more than half the global population, holding polls, for some it marks the nadir of democracy. Cambodia is one such case.

Last July, after nearly 40 years in power, then-Prime Minister Hun Sen said he would transfer power to his eldest son, Hun Manet. The hereditary succession was preceded by national elections that Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) claimed to have won by a landslide. The United States said the vote was ‘neither free nor fair’, while European Union officials said it was ‘conducted in a restricted political and civic space.’ Since then, however, the international community has more or less accepted Cambodia’s dynastic autocracy.

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