The Senate election campaign kicked off with little fanfare on Saturday, with only the ruling Cambodian People’s Party holding a large public event. The campaign period will last 14 days, ending two days before the February 25 polls.
The National Election Committee confirmed that only the CPP took to the streets to campaign, with more than 1,000 supporters at a parade in Takeo province.
Only elected officials in the National Assembly and local commune councils are eligible to vote in the election. These officials will select 58 of the 62 senators, the King nominates another two and the National Assembly selects two more.
The country’s only viable opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, was forcibly dissolved in November, and its elected positions were redistributed among minor parties and the CPP, giving the ruling party an unassailable majority at the local level.
It is mathematically impossible for any other party to win any of the 60 elected seats, unless CPP representatives abstain en masse or vote against their own party.
Pich Sros, president of the Cambodian Youth Party, said his representatives will still honour the principle of the election.
“We compete not to win, but to fulfil the rights of those who love us,” he said.
The CNRP, meanwhile, condemned the election as unconstitutional and a violation of the peoples’ will. In a statement, it also appealed to the CPP to foster a “spirit of national reconciliation”.
Ou Chanrath, a former CNRP lawmaker, said the Senate election was a waste of money.
“This election is like a toy for a kid,” he said, calling the minor parties “puppets” who serve the CPP.