Cambodia: Background


On April 1, 2007 Cambodia held council elections for its 1,621 communes and urban sub-districts (sangkats).
More citizens stood as candidates than in any other election in Cambodian electoral history: 12 political parties fielded a total of 102,266 candidates to compete for 11,353 council seats.
The Cambodian People's Party (CPP) obtained 61 percent of the popular vote and retained its control of most commune councils, taking 1,591 of the 1,621 council chief positions. The Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), taking approximately 25 percent of the popular vote, doubled its number of council seats from the last election and is now represented in more than 90 percent of the councils.
Following the removal of party president Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the royalist National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful and Cooperative Cambodia (FUNCINPEC) party won only five percent of the vote versus the 20 percent it attained in the 2002 elections. Prince Ranariddh's party, the Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP), took 10 percent of the popular vote despite the prince's absence during the campaign period and on election day.
These elections were a significant improvement over Cambodia's first local elections held in 2002. The National Election Committee (NEC) administered election day procedures with greater efficiency, and there was a considerable decrease in the level of violence and intimidation during the election period.
However, in the face of these developments, a number of serious problems continue to affect Cambodia's electoral system. Voter turnout, at 68 percent of registered voters, was at a historic low for Cambodia. Observers speculated that the incomplete distribution of voter information notices, problems with voter registration, and voter apathy may have contributed to the low turnout.