Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Voter turnout keeps falling

Voter turnout keeps falling

A first-time voter casts his ballot at a polling station in Phnom Penh on Sunday.
A first-time voter casts his ballot at a polling station in Phnom Penh on Sunday. HONG MENEA

Voter turnout keeps falling

Since the 1998 National Assembly election, when 93 per cent of registered voters cast ballots, voter participation in the Kingdom has dropped precipitously election to election. That trend continued unabated Sunday as only an estimated 68 per cent inked their fingers.

But some analysts attributed this year’s low turnout – which dipped about seven per cent from 2008 – to an increase in the number of obstacles thrown at would-be voters rather than a decrease in political interest.

Election watchdogs Comfrel and Transparency International both reported widespread complaints from registered voters turned away from polling stations for not having proper ID or not appearing on the polling station’s voter list.

“Nothing else explains to me why there should be [a lower] voter turnout this election,” said Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights. “It’s not that people didn’t want to vote.”

Comfrel and TI were in basic agreement with the National Election Committee for voter turnout numbers. Comfrel’s data showed 68 per cent of Cambodia’s 9.6 million registered voters participating, while the latter two reported about 69 per cent.

The CPP found its majority in the National Assembly bruised after the ruling party lost 22 seats in the ballot, leaving it with 68 of the 123 seats.

But if election officials had not disenfranchised a high volume of people attempting to vote, the CPP’s majority may have been further damaged, Virak said.

“In 2008, it definitely wouldn’t change the results,” Virak said. “In this election, would they change election results? I would say yes.”

Problems with the NEC’s voter list seemed to play the largest role in the drop in active voters this year, Comfrel executive director Koul Panha said. But the NGO will collect data from its election observers and complete a full report at a later date, he said.

Although the percentage of voters has diminished since 2008, the number of people who voted increased by about 600,000, NEC secretary general Tep Nytha said.

But the numbers on the voter list may be a deceiving method of judging the number of registered voters.

“There might be, in fact, far fewer real registered voters than actually are on the list,” Virak said.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all