The fifth Senate election went smoothly and peacefully, with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) leading the vote at each of the voting stations which the Ministry of Information provided provisional results for.

The election kicked off at 7am and ended at 3pm, with 11,747 eligible voters, consisting of incumbent lawmakers and commune council members, casting their ballots at 33 polling stations across eight regions nationwide.

The election was contested by four contenders – the CPP, FUNCINPEC, Khmer Will Party (KWP) and the Nation Power Party (NPP) – vying for 58 out of the 62 Senate seats. The remaining four seats will be appointed by the King and the National Assembly (NA).

Former Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is standing for Senate president, cast his ballot in Kandal province’s Takhmao town, just outside the capital, while his successor Hun Manet voted at Phnom Penh’s Preah Sisowath High School, along with Prince Norodom Chakravuth, president of the royalist FUNCINPEC party.

At Preah Sisowath High School in central Phnom Penh, there were two voting stations, with more than 900 voters. Voters arrived before 7am and formed orderly lines, with people with disabilities given priority.

“This election is important because the Senate is a top legislative body. It reviews the laws used to govern the country, based on the Constitution,” said Cheav Sengly, a Boeung Tomup 2 commune council member.

“The organisation of this election is much better than the last one. This has improved the confidence of voters,” added Hun Sophal, a Stung Meanchey III commune council member.

According to the preliminary results shared by the information ministry, the CPP received the majority of votes at all polling stations.

Prime Minister Hun Manet places his vote in the ballot box at Preah Sisowath High School in Phnom Penh on February 25.Heng Chivoan

In Kandal province, where Hun Sen resides, the CPP received 779 out of 926 votes, followed by the KWP, with 130. In Phnom Penh, where Prime Minister Hun Manet cast his ballot, the CPP were reported to have collected 817 votes to the KWP’s 88. 

In Battambang, where former Minister of Interior Sar Kheng cast his ballot, the CPP claimed 706 of the 830 available votes, again followed by the KWP, on 118.

In Siem Reap, the score was CPP 544, KWP 107, while Kampong Speu and Kampong Cham were no different, at 555-65 and 667-151, respectively. Kampong Chhnang saw the ruling party take 364 to the KWP’s 50.

In Svay Rieng, the CPP received 437 votes, with the KWP receiving 79. Prey Veng electors cast 724 votes for the CPP, and just 116 for the KWP, while in Pursat, the CPP took 315 of the available 344 votes, with no figures reported for the KWP.

Kratie province saw the CPP collect 259 to the KPW’s 43 votes, while Ratanakkiri reported a 242-19 split. Koh Kong voters awarded 148 votes to the CPP, and just 20 to the KWP.

With few votes available due to the small population, the provisional results for Pailin province were 47 in favour of the CPP and just four for the KWP.

The provisional results will be released on March 2, with the official results declared on April 2, said the National Election Committee (NEC).

NEC spokesperson Hang Puthea said the election was monitored by a large number of local and international media, associations and NGOs.

“The elections went well. They were safe and secure, with good cooperation between local authorities and the permanent security election committee. We hope that everything will be smooth until the process is complete,” he added.

Kimsour Phirith, a member of the KWP board of directors who stood in region 1 – which covers Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, Koh Kong, Pursat and Preah Sihanouk provinces – said the election process was smooth, largely because it was a non-general election.

He explained that his party depended entirely on commune councillors from the Candlelight Party (CP), which joined the KWP in the recently established “Alliance towards the Future”, for votes.

The CP was disqualified from the 2023 general election for failing to meet the NEC’s rules and regulations. 

“The Candlelight Party encouraged the KPW to contest the election. We expect a good result. As long as none of our councillors is absent, we will win vote at every polling station in the Kingdom,” he added.

Nhoeun Raden, an NA member and FUNCINPEC party spokesman, said he believed that the election was held in good order.

The excellent atmosphere of the election was also commended by CPP spokesperson Sok Eysan, who believed that those who cast their ballots should serve as excellent examples of how people should conduct themselves at future elections.

“Based on the situation I saw, the elections were successful, free and fair. As for the CPP, we hope to get the results we are expecting,” he said.