WASHINGTON DC - Young voters, factory workers and migrant workers could be “game changers” in the upcoming elections in July, but too few of them will likely participate, a leading rights advocate says.
Ou Virak, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, told “Hello VOA” on Monday that if hundreds of thousands of garment workers, who work in urban areas but come from the countryside, they could make a real difference in the election, especially for the opposition.
Similar voting blocks including the young generation and those who migrate for work, he said.
However, none of these groups are voting as major blocks, he said. This is due to their own negligence, as well as a controversial election system that makes it hard to vote, he said.
Still, the change in age demographics, as well as urban expansion, is allowing more access to information to more people, he said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ruling Cambodian People’s Party are expecting a broad sweep in the July polls. Hun Sen has said he expects to win about 70 percent of the 123 National Assembly seats available. He based these predictions on a recent survey by the US-based International Republican Institute.
However, Ou Virak said the sampling of the survey—which was 80 percent rural—could mean that the opposition does better than people expect.
He also discounted warnings by Hun Sen that an opposition win could plunge the country into war. Top officials today want nothing more than stability, he said. “Any instability will harm their interests the most,” he said, citing their ownership of land and “villas.”
“Stability is what every party wants,” he said. “And no matter what their fear tactics are, they don’t worry people much.”