It’s the perennial question of Cambodian politics: can the country’s miserly and splenetic opposition parties unite to take on the long-ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP)?
In February, the newly-resurrected Candlelight Party (CLP) and five other groups held alliance talks, which obviously didn’t work out. Yet four of them – the CLP, Grassroots Democratic Party, Khmer Will Party, and Cambodia Reform Party – have agreed to work together to push for changes to the election law and the structure of election organizations.
What would happen if some of Cambodia’s 17-or-so opposition parties cooperated? Let’s call this hypothetical political creature “the Alliance.” Some 17 political parties contested local elections in June. The ruling CPP took 74 percent of the popular vote. The Candlelight Party won 22.2 percent, quite an achievement given that it only restarted activity a few months earlier. Put differently, had the other 15 parties united with the Candlelight, they would have only taken just over 25 percent of the vote.