Prime Minister Hun has vowed that his ruling Cambodian People’s Party
would govern alone if victorious in July’s general elections, ending a
coalition government deal that has been in place since the early 1990s
and quashing hopes that minor parties could have some share of power.
“In the past there was a stalemate ... so I had to facilitate this
party or that party and enter into a coalition government. Now the
winner gets 100 percent [of government],” he said.
“If there is an A, there will be no B. If there is a B, there will be
no A. There is me or him,” Hun Sen added on May 26, referring to a
year-long deadlock following elections in 2003 during which the CPP and
the royalist Funcinpec struggled to hammer out a coalition deal.
Hun Sen also warned that leadership positions in the National Assembly
– often the only source of leverage for non-ruling party players –
would not be divided between the parties, as had been following past
“There is no need to come and beg for the posts of commission chairman
or vice-chairman,” Hun Sen said, taking aim at senior opposition party
politicians who he blamed for using their leadership roles to simply
criticize the government.
There is the danger of a setback to the democratic process.
– Koul Panha, Comfrel
“You are opposition members, but you have another rank as chairmen or
vice chairmen of commissions so you must perform your obligations,” he
Hun Sen’s vigorous rhetoric comes ahead of July 27 polls that observers
say will likely establish his total political dominance following a
wave of defections from the ruling party’s biggest antagonist, the Sam
Rainsy Party, and the disintegration of former coalition partner
Funcinpec, which has been fractured by infighting following the ouster
of its leader, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, two years ago.
In the aftermath of the 2003 standoff, a constitutional amendment was
approved requiring only a simple majority in parliament to form a
government, rather than the two-thirds needed in previous polls, a move
that has all but assured the CPP of ruling on its own after the July election.
Analysts, while acknowledging that any party with a majority vote had the right to govern on its own, warned that a single-party government could result in too much power for any one political group.
“We’re concerned over losing the balance of power because we worry that the CPP will control every level of administration, from the top government posts to the village,” said Koul Panha, executive director of the election monitor Comfrel.
“There is the danger of a setback to the democratic process,” he added.
Sok Touch, a professor of political science at Khemarak University, agreed, saying that any system of checks and balances in government would largely disappear with decisive single party victory.
“After a party wins, what will it do? If there is only one party, there will be no control over the implementation of policy,” he told the Post on May 28, adding, though, that a single-party government might be forced towards greater accountability.
“If the CPP wins total power, it will not be able to put the blame for mistakes on any other party. The CPP will be responsible for both right and wrong – doubling its responsibility,” he said.