AMONG the four parties approved to compete in the upcoming May 17 council elections, just two parties - the ruling Cambodian People's Party and opposition Sam Rainsy Party - will compete for seats on Phnom Penh's municipal council, according to party ballot draws conducted by the Provincial Election Committee (PEC) Tuesday.
Funcinpec and the Norodom Ranariddh Party, which lack significant numbers of commune councillors in the capital, will be unable to participate in the municipal council poll, which is only open to Cambodia's 11,353 sitting commune councillors.
Tach Setha, the first of the SRP's eight candidates, said that although the municipal elections would be a foregone conclusion, he was optimistic the party's policies would encourage CPP councillors to cast their ballot for the opposition.
"We hope the SRP will have enough votes, and in addition we hope the CPP's commune councillors will see that the SRP acts in the people's interest and will vote for our candidates," he said at SRP headquarters Wednesday.
The ruling party confirmed it would run 45 candidates in the elections, although it had not yet finalised its candidate lists. But party representative Nuth Chea dismissed the idea that ruling party councillors would cast their vote for the opposition.
"Why will CPP members vote for the SRP? What did the SRP do for the people that will make the CPP vote for [them]? This is just inflating rhetoric from the SRP," he said.
Not worth it
NRP spokesman Suth Dina said Wednesday that although his party held four of Phnom Penh's 664 commune council positions, the party's small representation in the capital meant it was not worth taking part in the elections.
Puthea Hang, executive director of local election monitor Nicfec, said that even though the SRP had decent commune representation in Phnom Penh, the poll would reflect the numbers, which show the CPP holding 394 commune council seats to the opposition's 266.
"We do not think votes will be bought from the SRP, but the CPP will still dominate this poll," he said.
In Tuesday's ballot draw, the SRP was drawn to appear ahead of the CPP on municipal council ballots.