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Knowledge Among Voters Improving: Experts

[Editor's note: In the weeks leading into national polls, VOA Khmer will explore a wide number of election issues. The "Election Issues 2008" series will air stories on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a related "Hello VOA" guest on Thursday. This is the second in a two-part series examining the role of voters.]

Even as voters worry over broken promises from campaign parties ahead of Sunday's election, experts say that the level of knowledge of voters on the election process is improving.

During the election campaign, 11 political parties sought to attract voters through various promises and by offering up recognizable candidates. As the monthlong campaign continued, some parties even sought to win voters by promising reformed internal party structure.

All of this points to a more sophisticated understanding of democracy, experts say.

Cambodian voters, who are now seeing their fourth national election, have an increasing understanding of the voting process as well as the campaign and the inner workings of political parties, said Hang Puthea, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia.

"This is the progress of the voters' ideas, who focus on the political platform, candidates and internal party structure, because the political platform and internal party structure is a main method to attract support from the people," he said.

In this election, parties have taken the time to inform people about their party structure and the election process, said Ly Sothearayuth, a senior program officer for the National Democratic Institute.

"So the people have understanding more and more about political parties, the election process and political structure than past elections," he said.

Ourn Sokhorn, 47, a farmer in O'Rieng Ouv District, Kampong Cham province, told VOA Khmer she and her family members had prepared identity cards and election cards for Sunday's vote.

The election was of "historical importance," she said, and would push for development, respect of law, anti-corruption, and the fight for social justice and non-violence.

Yan Oun, 58, a grocer in Kampong Cham town, said she hoped that her vote would bring her out of poverty and decrease the high price of goods as well as promising full rights and freedom to her.

"I believe in the party that has a clear principle for democracy and the rule of law for the whole nation," said Bin Sokha, 53, a barber on the roadside in O'Rieng Ouv.