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Small Parties Hope a Niche Is Enough

While supporters of the four biggest parties massed in the streets Friday for rallies in the final day of campaigning, the eight smaller parties wrapped up their efforts where they began, at the grass roots.

With limited resources and focused ambitions, these parties were hoping to win commune by commune, person by person, in Sunday's elections. And though no individual party will make sweeping changes nationwide, observers say that just having them is a step toward better democracy.

Prince Sisowath Thomico, a delegate of the Sangkum Jatiniyum Front Party, said supporters moved along the railroad tracks in Phnom Penh's Beung Kak and Russei Keo districts, meeting people along the way to explain the party's position. The party is fielding candidates 100 communes across 15 provinces.

"I decided from the beginning that I would not campaign like other parties," the prince said. "There would not be a rally with cars or motorcycles. Rather, I asked my activists to go campaigning in the streets and from house to house."

The Khmer Improvement Party, which put up a single candidate, in one commune in Kandal province's Takmau district, held no rally, party president Liv An told VOA.

Some groups did manage to hold rallies, just not the thousands-strong reported by the main parties: the ruling Cambodian People's Party, coalition partner Funcinpec, opposition Sam Rainsy Party and the splinter Norodom Ranariddh Party.

"For my party, there are big rallies in the communes in Prey Veng province," Seng Sokheng, secretary-general of the Hang Dara Democratic Movement Party said. "There were not many cars, only motorcycles and bicycles."

For those who didn't rally, loudspeakers and cyclos were used, along with fliers.

Uk Phourik, president of the Khmer Democratic Party, said the party handed out about 30,000 fliers in 12 cities and provinces.

Fliers, flags, bullhorns, loudspeakers—these are the media. Each party delivered independent messages, perhaps best summed up by Khem Veasna, president of the Alliance for Democracy Party.

"I focused on doing good services for the people, being honest," he said. "Whatever we have done, we show it to them."