Cambodia's national election in July ranked 69th out of 73 elections held worldwide between mid-2012 and the end of 2013 for electoral integrity, an election research group based at the University of Sydney and Harvard University has found.
The Electoral Integrity Project (EIP) collected assessments from 855 elections experts, 15 specifically on Cambodia, to inform their index of electoral integrity, which evaluated 11 stages of the electoral process.
Cambodia’s election ranked only above those in Belarus, Republic of the Congo, Djibouti and Equatorial Guinea.
Reflecting long-standing criticism of last year’s electoral process, the EIP found that Cambodia performed worst in voter registration, campaign finance – which includes the use of state resources in campaigning – and the independence of electoral authorities compared to other electoral stages.
But other electoral stages, such at the vote count, were not rated particularly badly. Partisan manipulation of voting district boundaries was rated better than in the United States.
National Election Committee secretary-general Tep Nytha yesterday suggested that the researchers had only asked experts who would provide negative views.
“Their findings depend on the information they get. If they take it from one side … they will evaluate the election negatively,” he said.
“I think if they study [the election] from both sides, they will have the right information about the election.”
A November report from an umbrella group known as the Election Reform Alliance, which has been rejected by the government as “manipulated”, identified similar issues.
EIP researcher Max Grömping said that monitors often provide contradictory election evaluations, as in Cambodia.
“Therefore, we decided to ask experts about their perceptions of the quality of the elections. Pooling expert knowledge is common practice when dealing with difficult and controversial issues where other sources . . . are lacking,” he said.
The EIP declined to name which experts had been consulted, but the National Democratic Institute and Transparency International Cambodia yesterday said they had not been approached.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA