Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Democracy on the decline: think tank

Democracy on the decline: think tank

Democracy on the decline: think tank

Cambodia ranks among the lowest in the region on its ability to reform; corruption, political stasis and a rapidly widening income gap are hindering its progress, according to a recent survey of the country’s democratic institutions.

“The hopes once raised by Cambodia’s process of democratic transformation have long since been disappointed,” notes a report released on Thursday by German think tank Bertelsmann Stiftung, which gave Cambodia especially low scores in the areas of politics and economic stability.

Ranked on a scale of one to 10, Cambodia received two in “stability of democratic institutions”, putting it above Myanmar and Laos – which each scored one – but far below Thailand’s 3.5 and Indonesia’s and the Philippines’ score of seven.

“With little evident opportunity to overturn CPP rule, a general loss of trust and interest in the functioning of democratic institutions, not only within the National Assembly and the Senate, but also within other segments of the political elite and civil society, seems to be inevitable,” the report says.

Transformation Index, which every two years ranks countries considered to be transitional democracies, has dropped Cambodia from 88 out of 125 countries in 2008 to 105 of 128 countries this year.

“Economic growth has been prioritised over guaranteeing the protection of water sources and forests,” the survey notes. “While the Cambodian state now has a very stable political system, this has come
at the cost of democratic participation.”

Though stability appears chief among government successes, the report warns a growing income gap could threaten the calm. “[S]ocial stability may come to be threatened if a redistribution of wealth cannot be managed. Major social reforms should be long-term goals.”

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan dismissed the group’s findings, saying it appeared to misunderstand both the rate of change and the situation on the ground.

“I don’t think that report accurately reflects what’s happening in Cambodia. They use outdated information,” he said. “We support the well-functioning mechanisms of a democratic society.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Abby Seiff at [email protected]


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of

  • Australian police investigating death threat against Kem Ley's widow

    Updated: 10:17am, Friday March 23, 2018 Australian authorities on Thursday confirmed they have launched an investigation into a crudely written death threat sent tothe family of slain political analyst Kem Ley and Victoria state MP Hong Lim. The typed letter, reported to Victoria police last week, is

  • Phnom Penh smothered in smelly, dangerous haze as landfill fire continues burning

    A putrid haze that has bedeviled Phnom Penh since Monday night will likely continue as a landfill in Dangkao district continued to burn on Friday, creating health risks for the capital's residents. Workers at the Dangkao landfill on site on Friday attributed the fire, which