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Fifty percent plus one system is unchanged, PM says

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
Members of the national Assembly during a budget meeting. National Assembly

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday said the ruling CPP will not have the Constitution amended from 50 percent plus one system back to two-thirds formula to form a government.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh yesterday, Mr Hun Sen said he will not be in favour of the formula change in forming a new government.

“Some critics reiterated Cambodia remains in political crisis. It is ridiculous,” he said. “Someone wants us to amend the Constitution by changing the 50 percent plus one system to the two-thirds formula. It is a stupid idea,” Mr Hun Sen said.

In 2006, the Constitution was amended to reduce the number of lawmakers needed to form a government and reach quorum at the National Assembly’s plenary sessions from two-thirds of lawmakers to 50 percent plus one.

In 2006, former Sam Rainsy Party president Sam Rainsy wrote to Mr Hun Sen and former National Assembly president Prince Norodom Ranariddh of Funcinpec, asking them to allow the formation of a new government through the 50 per cent plus one system rather than two-thirds of parliamentary seats which had been required since 1993.

The intent was to prevent the political deadlock that occurred after the 2003 national election from repeating itself.

“Because the two-thirds formula was more difficult to work with, we changed from the two-third formula to the 50 plus one system to pave the way for winning the party to form a new government,” he said.

“Previously, the winning party begged the losing party who boycotted the National Assembly to attend the session because they needed 85 lawmakers to hold a plenary session,” Mr Hun Sen added.

“They needed at least two-thirds or 82 lawmakers to vote to form a new government. In 1998, the CPP won [64] of the [122] seats, but we could not create a new government. In 2003, we won 73 seats but we could not form a government, either,” he said.

Mr Hun Sen also mocked Rainsy for helping him to have the Constitution amended in 2006.

“He [Rainsy] called me Vietnam’s puppet but finally, I used him to support the amendment of the Constitution,” he said.

Political analyst Hang Vitou said yesterday the 50 plus one system amendment is unlikely to materialise because the CPP is sweeping all 125 parliamentary seats.

“The situation in the 2000s was quite different from the current one,” Mr Vitou said. “The CPP needs to safeguard its achievement and power and in the future, if they do not win a landslide victory, they still can form a new government.”

He said an amendment is unimportant because there are no real challengers to the CPP.

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