At a forum on youth participation in politics, representatives from NGOs discussed the problems young aspiring activists face breaking into the scene, despite the demographic’s rising importance to Cambodia’s political landscape.
The forum was organised by the Delegation of the European Union to Cambodia, in cooperation with local youth NGOs like the People’s Centre for Development and Peace (PDP) and the Youth Committee for Unity and Development.
Yong Kim Eng, PDP president, said capturing the youth vote is key to winning elections.
“All parties should have a policy focused on youth and should find methods to attract young people to participate in their campaign,” he said, also noting that young people face challenges in getting more directly involved.
“Although they have momentum, they also still have a number of obstacles. Political parties still do not understand the value of youth,” Kim Eng said.
Keo Phala, a representative from the National Election Committee, pointed out that voters from the ages of 18-35 make up 33 percent of the 7.8 million registered voters.
By comparison, however, they only make up approximately 6 percent of the 88,000 candidates vying for commune council seats in Sunday’s vote.
A young man in the audience named Rotha said he was concerned about issues of justice in his community, but noted that most young people feel they aren’t taken seriously or given a fair chance in politics.