Local Elections Hold Out a Glimmer of Progress

The long-ruling CPP is almost certain to win this weekend’s commune election, but a revived opposition could reopen the political space.

This weekend, Cambodians will head to the polls to vote in commune elections, with an opportunity to end five years of de facto one-party rule, at the grassroots level at least. The process won’t be free, fair, or even legitimate, but it could help introduce some democratic space into a society that has become extremely repressive since a political crackdown that began in 2017.

That year, the Supreme Court ruled to dissolve the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). The party’s president, Kem Sokha, was jailed for treason while its other co-founder Sam Rainsy remained abroad to avoid a similar fate.

The dissolution left the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) in control of 11,510 out of 11,572 commune positions, and allowed it to take every single seat in the National Assembly during the 2018 national elections. It was a jarring embrace of one-party rule in a country that had generally pursued the form, if not the substance, of multiparty democracy.

In full: https://thediplomat.com/2022/06/in-cambodia-local-elections-hold-out-a-glimmer-of-progress/

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