How to vote in Cambodia’s national elections

Tomorrow the country holds its 4th national elections since the 1991 Paris Peace Accords were signed, ending decades of civil war and foreign occupation. In the runup to this weekend our counterparts in the Ministry of Health and all health professionals were required to partake in campaigning for their parties. (This meant that all activities agreed upon were essentially put on hold for two months).

I asked one of them, a hospital director, what it is he does when he goes out to the villages and communities to campaign. “I teach people how to vote”, was the response. Really? How do you teach them how to vote? “I show them which box on the ballot to check”. Do you like to do that? [[He hesitates, then…]] “It doesn’t seem right… But it’s good for CPP to win so that we won’t have violence again. And I’m a doctor and I have responsibilities so I should vote for CPP.”

The dominant CPP party had to settle for a coalition government with FUNCINPEC because they didn’t win the required 2/3 majority in the 2003 elections, and the PM has taken steps to ensure that won’t happen again. CPP’s campaign was largely about threatening violence if CPP does not take a majority.

Needless to say, people in a generally subdued mode…

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