Sunday,2007-07-15: Movements in and among Political Parties

Posted on 17 July 2007. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 516 |

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 516

The week under consideration provided ample proof that there is some movement in the landscape of political parties in the country.After having had more that 30 parties participating in the national elections in 1993, and more than 20 in 1998, during the commune council elections of 2007 the number was down to 12. All these elections proved that only the big parties – the Cambodian People’s Party, Funcinpec, the Sam Rainsy Party – were able to actively participate on the legislative level in response to the votes of the people. All the efforts of other parties during several of the last elections were left with less than one percent of votes received.

Some observer praised the high number of parties participating in the elections as a sign of the development of democracy in Cambodia; others saw the reality of the many parties as a result of an unrealistic self-esteem of the isolated individuals who had created these parties, and who were not prepared to enter the difficult negotiations of finding common ground in cooperation.

The creation of the Human Rights Party – a party with its fundamental program orientation in its name – has introduced a new element into the landscape of parties in Cambodia, because the announcement of its creation was accompanied by a detailed, transparent description about internal procedures with separate responsibilities for – first – internal decision making, – second – leadership with time-limited mandates, and – third – a body monitoring the implementation of internal rules. This structure somewhat reflects the separation of the three powers of the legislative, executive, and judicial powers of many states.

While this new party is also the result of the efforts of its present leader, the statutes and regulations of this party make it clear from the beginning that the leadership on different levels can be changed by decisions of the party members for which procedures have been made public, even without any critical moves from within the party membership, the top leadership will change automatically when their set terms end. This is quite a contrast to structures and dynamics of some other parties, as the public could monitor the different moves within Funcinpec, leading to the creation of the Norodom Ranariddh Party – the second party in the country which therefore is tied, by name, to the person of its leader, and the majority party which has the same leadership since many years.

There were several reports about movements in or between the different parties, from different sources:

Joining or leaving the Sam Rainsy party:

  • Hor Sopheap and Khieu Dara Leave Funcinpec and Join Sam Rainsy Party [again]
  • Five Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians [names not mentioned] Prepare to Leave Sam Rainsy Party [because they are disappointed for not being able to be priority parliamentary candidates]
  • Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party Exchange Politicians with Each Other, Making People Get Bored

From the Norodom Ranariddh Party to Funcinpec:

  • Ok Socheat and Serey Kosal Officially Announce Defection from Norodom Ranariddh Party
  • Ok Socheat and Serey Kosal [advisors to Prince Ranariddh] Officially Join Funcinpec

Discussions – or not – relating to Funcinpec and its leadership:

  • Funcinpec Agrees to Allow Samdech Krom Preah to Returns to Be the President
  • Samdech Krom Preah Gives Green Light Again for Meeting between Officials of Norodom Ranariddh Party and Funcinpec
  • Nhek Bun Chhay [Funcinpec Secretary-General] Accepts Samdech Krom Preah [Norodom Ranariddh] as President Again at Hun Sen’s Order
  • Funcinpec Wants Krom Preah [Norodom Ranariddh] to Meet with Keo Puth Rasmey [Funcinpec president] for Discussion
  • Samdech Krom Preah Orders Closure of the Negotiations [with Funcinpec] Starting from This Hour
  • New Scenario [an offer decided by Funcinpec standing committee]: Samdech Krom Preah Will Be President of Funcinpec, Keo Puth Rasmey Will Be President of Standing Committee, and Nhek Bun Chhay Will Be Funcinpec Secretary-General

Members of the Sangkum Jatiniyum Front Party moving into different directions:

  • Norodom Ranariddh Party Appoints 27 Officials from Sangkum Jatiniyum Front Party [as deputy secretary-generals, steering committee members, etc.]
  • This Morning, Prince Thomico and More Than 20 Subordinates Announce Joining Funcinpec Officially
  • Thomico: Doing Politics Like Samdech Krom Preah [Norodom Ranariddh] Does, Monarchy Will Dissolve in 2008

And finally some old style rumors:

  • Did Cambodian People’s Party Give Money to Kem Sokha to Create Party? [rumor says Kem Sokha is supported by Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • Kem Sokha Starts Attacking Sam Rainsy in Order to Compete for People [hinting that he may reveal SRP scandals]

As this weekly comment is unfortunately delayed – because of my travel – it allows also a reference to the text translated for Monday, 16 July 2007: “Mr. Pen Sovann Announces Leading Members to Join Human Rights Party; Critics: If He Has More Than 70,000 Supporters He Should Stand as Candidate for His Own Party.” This event is interesting in three respects:

  1. Mr. Pen Sovann announced to join another party based on principles: the new party is “a party with a nature for which our citizens have hoped for a long time.”
  2. He joins another party without having first a role or position secured for himself as a person.
  3. He does not try to continue to build a future independent role for his 70,000 supporters, but rather wants to give up a separate role and join in a broader political cooperation.

The future will show how this new approach works, and whether or not others may also take similar decisions.

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