The National Election Committee yesterday released the order in which political parties will appear on the ballot for the upcoming commune elections, using the existing system of randomly assigning party placements in each commune, causing some political parties and observers to raise concerns over the potential for confusion among voters.
The election body assigned the ballot position for the country’s 1,646 communes yesterday. Only the Cambodian People’s Party and Cambodia National Rescue Party are contesting in all communes across the country.
As an example of the differences across communes, the CPP has been assigned the first ballot position in two of Phnom Penh’s Boeung Keng Kang communes and the second position in another.
Following the last national elections, the CNRP became synonymous with the prampi, or number seven, which was its national ballot position in 2013 and is frequently chanted loudly by party supporters at rallies and gatherings. Similarly, the CPP was associated with the number four.
Last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen asked supporters to stop associating the party with the number, informing them that there would be different ballot positions in the commune elections, a message that was similarly echoed by CNRP president Kem Sokha.
NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said party representatives from each commune came together and picked a neutral person to randomly pick the ballot positions. “They invited a monk or someone in the commune who everyone trusts to select the number for the party,” he said.
In order to avoid confusion, Puthea said the party positions will be posted in every commune and will be announced via loudspeakers by officials. CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said it was unlikely there would be any confusion among voters and that his party members would disseminate the CPP’s ballot position for the commune.
However, CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said the random assignment of positions would create some confusion, and that the party had previously alerted the NEC but to no avail.
“They have been using this system since the 2002 commune elections. It is in the law,” he said. “If we come to power we will amend the law for a better system.”
Election monitor Sam Kuntheamy said the onus would be on parties to ensure their supporters were aware of the party’s position on the ballot, while also suggesting that the NEC should consider assigning a single position for each party across the country.
“Because it will be easy for the voters, political parties and for campaigning as well,” he said.