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NEC releases final count for commune elections

Election officials empty a ballot box to begin counting at a polling station earlier this month in Phnom Penh.
Election officials empty a ballot box to begin counting at a polling station earlier this month in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

NEC releases final count for commune elections

The final results released by the National Election Committee (NEC) for the June 4 commune elections show the Cambodian People’s Party taking 1,156 communes to the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s 489 communes, ending the more than monthlong local election process.

As the NEC was still announcing province-by-province results on state broadcaster TVK last evening, it released official documents showing the final tally did not differ much from the preliminary results the election body released shortly after the June 4 ballot.

Only a few communes changed hands during the recount process after the release of the preliminary results. A separate NEC document also shows that the CPP received about half of the ballots cast nationwide during the elections – or 50.76 percent to the CNRP’s 43.83 percent.

A person watches a live telecast of the 2017 national commune elections result on his smartphone yesterday in Phnom Penh.
A person watches a live telecast of the 2017 national commune elections result on his smartphone yesterday in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Both the ruling and opposition parties have attempted to present the results of June 4 as a victory, with the CPP noting it retained a significant majority at the commune level and the CNRP noting its large improvements over the 2012 commune elections. The results show the CPP winning more than twice the number of communes won by the CNRP – but still down from the 1,592 of 1,632 communes it won in 2012.

The CNRP drastically improved on the 40 commune councils it won at the 2012 vote, which it contested separately as the Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party. Still, the CPP this time won 6,503 council seats across the country’s 1,646 communes to the CNRP’s 5,007 seats.

After the release of the final results, the CPP released a statement accepting them and calling the elections “free and fair”.

Sok Eysan, a ruling party spokesman, said by telephone the difference in votes received by the two parties of almost 500,000 showed the CPP would win the 2018 national election.

“Their party increased about 90,000 votes and the CPP increased 300,000 votes” compared to their shares in the 2013 national elections, Eysan said. “There is no possibility of the opposition party winning the elections. Absolutely not.”

Meeting with CNRP supporters in Prey Veng province in the morning, opposition leader Kem Sokha drew a graph charting the opposition’s vote share from 2012 to 2017, noting that it had increased from around 30 percent five years ago to 44 percent.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The Post's breakdown of seats won in the 2017 and 2012 commune elections.

Sokha, who had set 60 percent as the CNRP’s goal, said he expected the opposition would see a bump in its share of the vote of about 10 percent when focus turns to national issues at next year’s vote. CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann echoed Sokha’s comments and predicted a 15 percent increase for the CNRP at the national election.

“If we have got 44 percent, we can get 56 to 59 percent,” Sovann said, adding that the elections were not “free and fair”, citing an oppressive political environment in the lead up the poll. But he said the NEC performed “OK”.

The Foreign Ministry also released a statement commending the vote. It cited the assessments of election monitors including the International Conference of Asian Political Parties – which an academic paper in May described as a “shadow election observation group” used by authoritarian regimes – saying that the election took place without any signs of “intimidation, coercion and violence”.

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