The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party will be at a disadvantage at the local elections next year after an estimated 1.7 million people did not register to vote by the time the registration period closed on Wednesday, an analyst has said.
Speaking on VOA Khmer’s Hello VOA program on Monday, governance specialist Ok Serei Sopheak said the result would “have a strong impact on the opposition party.”
“This is because migrant workers are critics of the government and the ruling party,” he claimed.
About one in five eligible voters failed to register. Most of those who did not manage to register are thought to be migrant workers based in Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea.
More than 9.6 million people were eligible to vote in the commune elections scheduled for June 4.
Analysts and election monitors have said that financial hindrances prevented many migrant workers from registering.
As well as the financial burden of traveling to a registration station, many migrant workers complained of being denied paperwork by local authorities.
Serei Sopheak said that the CNRP and ruling Cambodian People’s Party must end the current tense political climate ahead of the election.
“They can be tough on each other via the microphone, but other than that they should talk to each other, negotiate with one another, look each other in the eyes, and shake hands so that the people will feel warm and that the election will be beneficial to them,” he said.
CNRP president Sam Rainsy and his deputy, Kem Sokha, are both facing legal action in Cambodian courts.
Despite fears that the CNRP may have hemorrhaged support since the enthusiasm of the 2013 election and its aftermath, which saw huge pro-opposition protests in the capital, Serei Sopheak believes most opposition voters in 2013 would continue to vote along party lines.
“I can hardly see that they would vote other party,” he said.