July 1 ushered in the first day of the election campaigns, passing off without notable incidents and being lauded as secure and orderly by the National Election Committee (NEC).

“The campaigns were marked by non-violence and an air of tranquility,” the NEC affirmed.

Political parties participating in the July 23 general election kicked off their campaigns in diverse forms, according to a NEC press release. Activities ranged from rallies and artistic performances to processions and marches in localities, punctuated by the distribution of party leaflets.

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) stood out with large processions across all its constituencies. Other parties, including the Khmer National United Party (KNUP), the Khmer Anti-Poverty Party and the Khmer United Party, also organised processions within their constituencies.

Reflecting on the campaign’s initial days, NEC spokesman Hang Puthea remarked on July 2 that 10 of the 18 participating political parties had held processions. These parties amplified their presence with loudspeakers, leaflet distributions and even concerts.

NEC Spokesman Hang Puthea. NEC

“The campaigns have so far brought joy and order to the people, with widespread support apparent,” Puthea said.

Celebrating the 72nd anniversary of the CPP’s founding on July 1 – originally slated for June 18 – Prime Minister Hun Sen delivered a keynote speech to a 70,000-strong audience at Koh Pich Convention and Exhibition Centre in Phnom Penh where he underscored the importance of the general election.

“The people are the architects of their future, electing a political party to guide the nation. They determine the nation’s and their own destiny,” he declared.

Hun Manet on the campaign trail in Phnom Penh for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) on July 1. Heng Chivoan

Presenting the CPP’s platform for 2023-28, Hun Sen emphasised his party’s commitment to national unity, fighting extremism, defending the constitutional monarchy and following an independent foreign policy. The platform also promised transparent, easy and reliable public services, alongside several other progressive pledges.

Simultaneously, leaders from the Khmer National United Party and FUNCINPEC voiced their campaign promises. KNUP president Nhek Bun Chhay thanked supporters, promising to prioritise national interests and people’s needs. FUNCINPEC president Prince Norodom Chakravuth highlighted policies addressing youth unemployment and promoting women’s rights.

The Funcinpec Party takes to the streets to win the heart of voters ahead of the July 23 general election. FUNCINPEC

The Khmer National United Party is also on the road reaching out for support, in the lead-up to the seventh general election. KNUP

Meanwhile, Sam Kuntheamy, executive director of the NGO Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC), confirmed that the first two days of the campaign period had passed without any identified irregularities.

“While the CPP held larger processions, smaller processions by other parties were likely due to their limited resources,” he observed.

The election campaign will run for 21 days, from July 1 to 21.

Supporters of the Beehive Social Democratic Party show off the Khmer numeral ‘1’, corresponding to the party’s position on the ballot papers. BEEHIVE SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY