The Economist’s Take on the Cambodian Election
Excellent article in The Economist this week about Prime Minister Hun Sen and the recent election.
There is frustration, too, over a widening wealth gap and corruption that favours the politically connected. Mounted on their scooters, armed with social media on their smartphones, the kingdom’s young people voted for change, and in the process reduced the government-run papers and television to the role of a state-propaganda machine capable of impressing only its own supporters. The CPP may have just about hung on in the countryside, but the urban vote and the youth vote must have gone overwhelmingly to the CNRP.
It has been fascinating to listen to the different international diplomatic responses to the allegations of election fraud. The EU, UK and France met with leading CPP officials, and appear to primarily by concerned about the potential for protests and unrest. The US, on the other hand, is urging an inquiry with international participation.
Sam Rainsy has called for mass protests, sometimes directly contradicting other officials in his party:
The Phnom Penh Post is reporting minor troop movements to Phnom Penh, which seem to be in response to the threat of protests.
As The Economist points out:
Early indications are, however, that Mr Hun Sen intends to be pragmatic and conciliatory, as he is rather more often than his harsher critics allow… Such flexibility might yet prolong the career of a humbled but wily political operator.
Hun Sen is a shrewd (if ruthless) politician – will be interesting to see his next move. Conversely, Sam Rainsy has spent more time campaigning from relative opulence in France (even before his exile) and begging the international community for support than actually connecting with local people and developing a party. Given the opportunity, will Sam Rainsy be any different? In other words, did young Cambodians vote for Sam Rainsy and the CNRP or did they simply vote against Hun Sen?