As Cambodian Election Season Nears, Opposition Parties Prepare to Tackle Hun Sen

Upcoming commune and national elections won’t be free or fair, but they will offer signals of how the CPP plans to govern during its next mandate.

Cambodia’s smaller political parties are beginning to organize in anticipation of commune-level elections in June, an important bellwether for national polls in July 2023. While there is little chance that either of the elections will be meaningfully free or open, their conduct will give some indications of how much political space the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) is willing to permit once it closes its grip on another five-year term.

Yesterday, the royalist party Funcinpec, a former powerhouse of Cambodian politics that has since faded to near oblivion, held a congress at which it elected Prince Norodom Chakravuth as its new president. Chakravuth is the eldest son of Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who led the party to victory at United Nations-organized elections in 1993 and died in late November.

During the congress, Chakravuth said that he was optimistic about Funcinpec’s ability to attract fresh voters at the June 5 commune election and to inflict some blows on the CPP’s armored façade. “I am going to reunite the former royalists, Sihanoukists and Ranariddhists, so that the party can return to its former levels of success,” he told party delegates.

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