Cambodia’s Hun Sen Uses Red Tape to Ensure a Risk-free Election

By tangling up the country’s one significant opposition party in tailor-made bureaucracy, the long-ruling leader is hoping to replicate the one-horse race of 2018.

Cambodia’s electoral non-event of July 2018, in which the ruling party won all the national assembly seats after it banned the main opposition party, made for a strange media spectacle.

International television stations, faithful to the notion of regular elections that are equally important and should get their allotted amount of coverage, earnestly covered the events leading up to the poll. The lack of an opposition party made it a challenge: There were no opinion polls to pore over and extrapolate, no live debates, no vox pops, no opposition leaders to interview.

On polling day, the main event was Prime Minister Hun Sen coming out of a polling station holding up his ink-stained finger to prove that he had voted. He blinked shyly into the flashing cameras as he held up his hand, like a boy at a fairground who is unsure that he has succeeded in pinning the tail on the donkey.

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