Competing political parties are vital to pluralism and liberalism. Such is the hallmark of Cambodian democracy today. The 6th general election scheduled to take place on July 29 will be an interesting political development as small political parties will matter more than before. Some parties will receive more votes and get some seats at the National Assembly if they perform well.
Both the existing and new emerging parties can be proactive by engaging the grassroots and being innovative in their strategies. They need to design practical policies to protect the interests of the working class, the farmers, the less privileged, and the marginalised.
Political vision and leadership are vital to small parties. They need to be able to structure people’s electoral choices, articulate and aggregate public opinion and concerns, and transform public sentiments into votes and actions.
Alleging small parties as “puppets” of the CPP is counterproductive to democratisation. Small parties pursue their own policy agenda, knowing that if they are just “yes men” of the CPP they will not get popular support. The main threats to democracy in Cambodia are the extreme views and actions of the Cambodia National Rescue Movement that advocate for regime change in Cambodia by all means including a people’s revolution which is not a smart and sustainable solution; it will destroy hard-earned peace, development, and democracy.
Foreign powers should further encourage Cambodia to promote dialogue among the parties and encourage them to debate emerging national and international issues either at the national assembly or at public platforms. Such a dialogue mechanism helps promote trust, consultation, and consensus among the different political parties.
Democracy is not only about elections but more importantly sustainable active participation of the people, either directly or indirectly. Political parties, big or small, are instrumental in representing and protecting the people’s interests.
Suos Yara Member of Parliament