WASHINGTON DC —
As Cambodia’s political parties begin campaigning to attract support ahead of the June local elections, an analyst has urged prospective voters to value their votes.
Ou Virak, founding president of the Future Forum think tank, told Hello VOA on Monday that electing commune councilors was more important than many think as they in turn vote to elect district and provincial councils and even senators.
“Generally, any party that wins the most commune councilors nationwide will have more voices in the senate,” he said.
The incumbent senators’ term expires in January, but a date is yet to be set for the next senate election.
Commune councilors also elect village chiefs, which have served as the power base for the ruling Cambodian people’s party for decades.
Ou Virak, head of the Future Forum think tank, talks to reporters, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, May 12, 2016. (Hul Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)
“People’s opinion and their perception is that they value their village chiefs more than the Prime Minister,” Virak said. “This is according to studies by IRI and several others.”
The commune elections, scheduled for June 4, is promising to be a competitive affair, with the CPP and opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party appearing to have comparable support.
Twelve parties will contest the election, but only the CPP and CNRP have registered candidates in the country’s 1,646 communes.
Virak said if the CNRP wins at the ballot box there should be an orderly and peaceful transition of power.
“If national independence institutions are strengthened, giving them real independence, I believe that there will be more confidence on the country’s stability and peace,” he said.