Cambodian National Assembly Election in 2013: A Sea Change in the Cambodian Political Landscape


A man checks lists of voters at a polling station in suburbs of Phnom Penh

This paper provides an analysis of the Cambodian National Assembly Election in 2013, with regard of electoral institutional settings, political parties, electoral campaign, voter turnout, as well as the election results and their implication for political change in Cambodia. The July 2013 election signaled a sea change in the Cambodian political landscape. For the first time since the re-introduction of multi-party election in 1993, the steady increase of vote for the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has been broken. Political competition has now crystallized into a polarized duel between two contending blocs, offering a first credible challenge to the CPP’s hold on power. Whether the dynamics set in motion by the 2013 election would lead to long-term change or will be stifled in the cradle, the year 2013 stood out as a landmark year. This paper argues that the government’s failure to address social issues gave credit to the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), and the successful merger between the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) and the Human Rights Party (HRP) into the CNRP and its seven-point populist manifesto coupled with the opposition party’s promise to fight corruption, such as land grabbing and forced eviction, illegal logging and deforestation, illegal migration from Vietnam, and to protect territorial sovereignty, in this case, referring to the border issues with Vietnam, greatly contributed to the CNRP’s rising popularity. The election itself has significant impact for political change in Cambodia. [Download]