The Election Reform Alliance, an umbrella group composed of members from civil society, has recommended that the new election law include provisions that would raise the number of seats in Cambodia’s parliament.
Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said that with economic and population growth in certain provinces, it makes sense to increase the available number of seats up for grabs.
“Some provinces, like Oddar Meanchey, Preah Sihanouk, we can [see] the strong economy and increase of population, so there should be two seats in the province, not only one as there is currently. Based on the economic and scientific perspective, we can possibly add four more seats,” he said.
In total, Cambodia’s National Assembly has 123 seats, but some provinces are only represented by one person.
Panha also said the voting system should be changed to a degree that would allow for smaller independent parties to gain seats as they did in the UN elections in 1993.
Funcinpec representative Nhek Bun Chhay agreed with the proposal.
“The seats should be increased for fairness, and it should be proportional from one province to another since some provinces have 40,000 people for one seat and some provinces have 100,000 people and get only one seat as well, so it is not equal,” said Chhay, whose party Funcinpec won the 1993 election but has no seats today.
Keo Phearum, the Cambodia National Rescue Party official working on the new draft election law, said the CNRP has in the past asked for more seats in Siem Reap, Kampong Speu and Preah Sihanouk provinces but, for the moment, is not pushing for the increase in negotiations. Bin Chhin, head of election reform for the CPP, could not be reached for comment.
According to Phearum, negotiations over the election law will end in late December or early January.