Asialink Webinar Series: The Future of Pragmatism in Cambodia: Election Analysis

On 23 July, general elections were held in Cambodia to elect members of the National Assembly.

This year's elections are ambiguous in nature, with many people asking 'how could these elections create change?' After the dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, the main opposition party in 2017, many have claimed that voting has simply become a sign of loyalty to the Cambodian People's Party (CPP). The CPP is current led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who assumed this position in 1984, making him one of the world's longest serving leaders.

As a current one-party government, this election will create a changing of the guard within the CPP. It is expected that we will see a formal transition of power from first- to second-generation leaders. This first generation of leaders have been in power since the Khmer Rouge government was overthrown in 1979.

In this era of geo-political uncertainty, big challenges are ahead for Cambodia. Internally, the CPP maintains concentrated control over the economy, wherein national wealth is largely distributed among the party's elite, impacting the effective functioning of Cambodia's financial institutions. Regionally, Cambodia is committed to the economic and political cooperation of Southeast Asia nations, but it grows increasingly closer to China.

What will these elections tell us about the state of politics in Cambodia today and possible future trends? What will these elections mean for Cambodia-Australia relations? How has economic pragmatism shaped Cambodia's foreign engagement? How do we rationalise, and what do we expect for, Cambodia's economic policies?

On  1 August,  we explored these questions in the webinar  on The Future of Pragmatism in Cambodia: Election Analysis with the expert panelists:

  • Dr Katrin Travouillon, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University
  • Sochua Mu, Cambodian politician and Vice President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party
  • Sovinda Po, Designated Director, Southeast Asia Studies, Royal University of Phnom Penh
  • Sebastian Strangio, Southeast Asia Editor, The Diplomat & Author of 'Cambodia: From Pol Pot to Hun Sen and Beyond'

Watch the webinar: