Former Prime Minister Hun Sen is slated to become president of the Senate, with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) expected to claim 55 of the 58 available seats, based on the preliminary results of the February 25 Senate election released by the National Election Committee (NEC). 

A coalition of opposition parties, who agreed to contest the fifth Senate election under the banner of the Khmer Will Party (KWP), are tipped to win three seats.

The opposition coalition was the result of the merger of four political parties: Candlelight (CP), who hold several commune council seats but were unable to meet the registration requirements for last year’s national election, as well as Khmer Will (KWP), Grassroots Democratic (GDP) and Cambodia Reform (CRP).

According to the NEC, the CPP received 10,052 votes, while the KWP earned 1,394. The two other parties which stood candidates – FUNCINPEC and Nation Power Party (NPP) – did not receive any seat.

The Sunday election saw 11,730 of the 11,747 eligible voters cast their ballots, equivalent to a 99.86 per cent turnout. 

The non-general election saw incumbent lawmakers and commune councillors elect 58 members of the Senate. The King and the National Assembly will each appoint two additional Senators.

Assuming there are no complaints, the provisional results will be announced on March 2, with the official results declared on April 2, according to the NEC election calendar.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said on February 26 that he was content with the outcome his party had obtained, as it demonstrated that the public still overwhelmingly support the CPP.

He said that over 83 per cent of the population turned out for the general election in 2023 to support the CPP, and now the party receives more than 85 per cent support in the Senate election. 

“I am pleased with the outcome because our share of the votes increased to over 85 per cent. As a spokesperson, I thank the voters who headed to the polls in the 33 electoral offices. They held a strong stance, and delivered an excellent result for our party,” he added.

Kim Sour Phirith, head of the KWP disciplinary council, said that regardless of the outcome, the party had done its best to contest the election.

“We did our best to campaign with integrity. Therefore, we are content with the outcome we obtained. The Khmer Will Party had won three seats. This shows that who are close to the Candlelight Party have stayed loyal to their democratic principles,” he added. 

Nhoeun Raden, spokesperson for the royalist FUNCINPEC led by Prince Norodom Chakravuth – which clinched five of the 125 National Assembly seats in the 2023 general election – said his party are closely following the latest developments in the Senate election.

He noted that the process had been smooth, with a pleasant atmosphere, and the outcome was acceptable.

NEC spokesperson Hang Puthea described the February 25 election as smooth, secure, safe and non-violent. There were just 17 absentee voter ballots at 11 of the 33 electoral offices across eight regions nationwide, and vote counting had begun before 3pm. 

“The voter list contained 11,747 eligible voters. Seventeen absentee voter ballots means that voter turnout was about 99.86 per cent. So far, we haven’t received any complaints,” he added. 

While meeting with the relevant sides on February 25, NEC chairman Prach Chan announced that the election outcome would be verified and tallied by the electoral commissions in Phnom Penh and the provinces to ensure accuracy, and decide on temporary and formal results. 

He said temporary results were due to be announced on February 29. If there are no complaints or protests, the formal results will be announced on March 4-6. 

“The general situation of the election was excellent. The process was smooth, non-violent and without any threats. Nothing hindered the electoral process. We view the election as free, fair and acceptable, and are proud of how it went,” he added.

Following the announcement of the preliminary results, several political parties which are allied to the CPP sent congratulatory letters.

“The CPP’s landslide victory in the election proved and reflected the wisdom and bravery of [Hun Sen], president of the CPP. He led the country wisely and unified it, in solidarity with the best interests of the nation. The CPP has maintained and protected peace for the nation, in a sustainable manner,” said one of the letters, according to the CPP.