Election 2018

Cambodia Adrift

On July 29, Cambodians voted in the nation’s sixth general election to choose representatives for the National Assembly. The ruling Cambodian People’s Party won by landslide, surprising no one but disappointing many. International groups have spent billions of dollars funding pro-democracy civil society efforts over the past 25 years yet the election results have been condemned as the most unfair and unfree since the United Nations organized the first post-genocide election in 1993. China, Cambodia’s largest foreign investor, is the only major nation to voice approval of the results, and it has pledged to protect Cambodia’s sovereignty from “foreign forces.” The government, headed by Prime Minister Hun Sen who has been in power since 1985, is now empowered for five more years. Hun Sen has said he will rule for another decade. | Read more

Cambodians Speak of Threats, Intimidation During Election

“It is villagers’ rights to go to vote or not vote,” said one woman describing pressure from ruling party officials to vote.

The differences between Cambodians are growing and may play a role in the July 29 election.

“I voted for the Sam Rainsy Party. I am going to vote this year, when I am asked to. I don’t know which party to vote for this time. Nothing has changed although I voted differently. I didn’t know that [the CNRP] was dissolved. I heard Prime Minister Hun Sen said, “If there is Sy [Sam Rainsy], there will be no Sen [Hun Sen].”

Tong Phoeun


“Many support the Cambodian People’s Party. People hate that [the oppoition CNRP was elected], so now [commune leadership] is given to CPP. I went to vote [last year] at Koh Teav pagoda. I am not sure if I will vote [this year]. I continue to observe the situation. If it is stable, I will go to vote. If not, I am not going to vote. It is normal for people to vote for whoever they like. It is not like you are holding people’s hands to vote for you.”

Thlen Thou

Palm juice Seller

“I am grateful for the Cambodian People’s Party that saved my life [from war]. I will never forget it until the day I die. I am going to vote this year. I never skip voting. If there is another party leading the country, I think it is good, too. Samdech (Hun Sen) has led the country for a long time, and I want to see how a new party can improve the country.”

Seth Ann


“Whenever I am told to vote, I am going to vote. I only voted for my party, the Cambodian People’s Party. I voted [for the CPP] for the stability and prosperity.”

Pann Sarou

Farmer, handicraft maker

“I went to vote every time. I never skip one. I was told when to go to vote. I just followed others [neighbors] when it comes to which party to vote for. It could be scary. I just showed up and voted. No, I cannot tell you [which party I voted for]. I am scared. Just scared.”

Om Pov

Vegetable seller

“I voted for Prime Minister Hun Sen. I just followed other people who voted for him. When I saw other people pick the party [on their ballot], I just followed them. If I don’t vote, I am afraid there is a problem since the community leaders normally ask everyone to go to vote. We are not the citizen if we don’t vote. But I am not afraid [to not vote for CPP.] We should not be scared, because it is our right to vote.”

Nou Sari


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