Funcinpec goes for the gold

Funcinpec president Prince Norodom Ranarridh sits on a red carpet
Funcinpec president Prince Norodom Ranarridh sits on a red carpet yesterday in Phnom Penh after a meeting of the royalist party on Koh Pich. MEAS SOKCHEA

Funcinpec goes for the gold

The royalist Funcinpec party has high hopes for the next general election, despite getting trounced at the ballot box in 2013.

Speaking to a crowd of about 1,000 party faithfuls at a conference held in Phnom Penh yesterday, Funcinpec president Prince Norodom Ranariddh said that the party had “high hopes” of coming second in the 2018 election.

“The new policy of Funcinpec is to make Funcinpec have a high impact in the collection of the royalist and Sihanoukist vote, so we have a chance of competing in the 2017 commune and 2018 national elections,” he said.

To achieve this seemingly quixotic goal, the party has devised a rewards system for its members across the country

Prince Ranariddh urged attendees at yesterday’s conference to drum up support for the party in the election for the sixth government since the UN-sponsored election in 1993 that made him prime minister.

In return for garnering more votes, party officials will be eligible for either a gold, silver or bronze medal as part of an annual competition. Gold medals will be awarded to the best performing official at the provincial level, silver to the district leader, and bronze to the most successful commune-level official.

“Every year, the one who does the best and tries hardest will get a gold medal. The one who collects the most votes for the royalists from their villages, communes and districts will be number one,” he said.

“Each year, I will offer a gold medal to the province, a silver medal to the district, and a bronze medal to the commune [that does best],” he added.

Prince Ranariddh did not explain how the rankings would be tallied or if the party expected this new strategy alone to gather enough votes to challenge the two main political parties, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.

To assist in the task, Prince Ranariddh yesterday appointed four additional party vice presidents, bringing the total to six – the highest number of any political party in Cambodia.

Joining Princess Arun Rasmey and General Nhek Bun Chhay are longtime party members You Hokry, Por Bun Sreu, Nuth Sokhom and Nhep Bun Chin.

“A party must be able to help its president,” Ranariddh said, adding that the new positions were created to assist in the drive to increase support at the grassroots level.

But Chea Vannath, an independent analyst, was skeptical.

“The competition is fierce. Now Funcinpec is a newcomer, so it must find a way to interest people. But to do that it must have real policies,” she said.

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