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Five Interesting Points of 4 June Commune Elections

I have some interesting points, at least to me, to make in the aftermath of 4 June commune elections.

1. Newly reformed National Election Committee (NEC) passed my expectations, and national and international observers’. NGOs give 95% mark for its management of the commune electoral process. Public survey of new voter registration system secures 98% for its accuracy, accessibility, transparency, effectiveness, and accountability. Surprisingly, in the recent election under this new NEC, CPP lodged more complaints than what CNRP did and it is unprecedented that NEC agreed to recount ballots of some polling stations lodged by CNRP. However, for any reasons, delays in announcement of complete preliminary results create suspicion among the public.

2. The highest turnout of registered voters is another interesting point. In the last updated circular, NEC revealed that record 90% of registered voters went to cast their votes on 4 June. This reflected not only the people responsibility and duty as a citizen of a democratic state but also their role in keeping politicians accountable. Moreover, ongoing post-election debates, though involved some moral indecency, enhance their political thinking about the feasibility of election promises, thus drawing further attention on politics. The results also reflected that voters did not fear the threats of war in the pre-election days.

The graph shows voter shares between CPP and CNRP
in the commune elections from 2002 to 2017.
3. Preliminary election results posed a dilemma for the two major parties, the ruling CPP and the opposition CNRP to deliberately declare their respective victories. Despite winning popular votes, CPP lost many of its commune chiefs and council seats. Likewise, CNRP lost minor popular votes against CPP but gained almost all that the CPP had lost. Although PM Hun Sen posted “congratulations” message on his Facebook page to his CPP voters, but behind the scene, complains about the lost seats were made by activists, supporters, and members while some keeping silence or speechless. CNRP too felt haft hearted. The gains fell below its 60% expectation and failed to take over the Senate and the position of Head of State in the absence of the King, hence any heartfelt congratulations expressed is a fake. However, both tried to find a way to lure themselves. More interestingly, both parties seemed to reach a point of power equilibrium in electoral politics which makes the next year general election cloudily unpredictable.

4. Not less interestingly, many analysts and commentators hope that this political equilibrium will be a push for further reforms which address voters’ demands. In such a political environment, all parties need to incorporate people demands (input) in their policy (output). And people feedbacks will be reflected in the general election in term of the vote (support) “Harder work” is the keyword, thus.

5. Last but not least, there is no protest against election results like before approved that the election was free, fair, and peaceful. On the other hand, parties lodged their complaints to NEC about election irregularities rather than trying to arbitrarily manipulate the results.

Overall, the election this time is viewed positively as far as further political development is concerned. If the ruling CPP does not spoil the NEC again and not attempt to unilaterally use forces or court to silence or eliminate the dissent, the future will be brightened. It is therefore required that all stakeholders keep this positive environment alive for good. After all, the election showed a positive sign for democracy in Cambodia.

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