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Cambodia: No Surprise During Commune Elections

Last Sunday, June 3, marked the third mandate of the Commune Council Elections in Cambodia which has a 5-year mandate. The adoption of the Commune Council structure was done to promote decentralization in governance and to bridge the decision-making process closer to the people. Commune Council voting took place in 2002 and 2007 respectively.

Commune Election Day. Photo from National Election Committee website

Commune Election Day. Photo from National Election Committee website

The theme of commune elections has been widely discussed and shared in the web and social media, especially on Facebook and Twitter. After going to the polling centers, many Facebook users immediately posted their ‘purple nails’ as proof that hey have finished voting already.

A Facebook user posted a photo of his voting document

What made the recent election more special was the setting up of an online search tool by the National Election of Cambodia which allows voters to verify the voter list and polling stations.

The online tool was welcomed by many citizens who used it to spread information and awareness about the election . The Phnom Penh Cambodia tested the online search and found it effective.

I think not many people have found (and used the website yet). (The) technology is really fast we can enjoy it. So if you guys want to find your name you can start using it now from your laptop with internet connection. I hope you enjoy it and share it with other friends for this voter list for the commune election 2012. Cheers!

Based on the official announcement of the election body, there are ten political parties which competed in the election. The ruling party, the Cambodian People Party, is the only party which fielded candidates in all 1,633 communes.

From a gender perspective, it is interesting to note that the percentage of women candidates making up the candidate list from all 10 parties for this 3rd commune election is 25.65 percent and this represents an increase of 4.29 percent from the 2007 elections. But despite the increase, women candidates are still underrepresented as women make up of more than 50 percent of the whole Cambodian population.

The use of online tools during the election campaign has sparked more interest and demand to automate the election system.

As expected the ruling party dominated the elections. It won 1,592 seats followed by two opposition parties, the Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party which garnered 22 and 18 seats respectively. Election watchdog Committee for Free and Fair Election in Cambodia compared this year's results with previous election outcomes.

The election turned out to be generally peaceful with fewer reports of violence, intimidation, fraud, and other irregularities.However, the administration party was accused of using state resources to gain advantage in the campaign. The opposition complained that many civil servants, police and soldiers helped in the campaign operations of the ruling party across country. This imbalance in resources has led many people to question if the elections were truly free and fair.

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