Seminar: Power Shift in Cambodia? The Implications of the Commune Elections
About the Seminar
The political environment in Cambodia is getting complex and opaque. The country, if not yet in the phase of power transition, is undergoing a new turn in tandem with a fast-changing politico-social system and emerging new political actors. Though since 1993 Cambodia has successfully organized five national elections and three local elections, historically, power transitions in the country have not always been smooth and peaceful. Hence Cambodia could encounter a critical turning point in the upcoming elections – the commune elections this year and the general elections in 2018. The commune elections, taking place on June 4th under close international scrutiny, will be a benchmark in assessing the political trends and power shifts in the kingdom. The long-ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has been under mounting pressure since the general election in 2013, which saw significant gains for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), to speed up reforms and deliver concrete results to restore public trust and confidence. The power competition between two main parties is intensifying as their popular powerbase is equalized. The seminar will discuss the commune election results and their implications for the 2018 national election and general power shift in Cambodia. Will the CPP remain in power? If not, will the power transition be peaceful?
About the Speaker
Vannarith Chheang is a Visiting Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. He is also a consultant at The Nippon Foundation in Tokyo, Chairman of Advisory Board at the Cambodia Institute for Strategic Studies, and adjunct Senior Fellow at the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace where he previously served as the Executive Director from 2009 to 2013. He was a Lecturer of Asia Pacific Studies at the University of Leeds from 2013 to 2016 and was also Visiting Fellow at China’s Institute for International Studies (Beijing, China), Nippon Foundation’s Asian Public Intellectuals (Tokyo, Japan), the Institute for Developing Economies (IDE-JETRO) (Chiba, Japan), and East-West Center (Washington DC, USA). Chheang also served as a technical adviser to the Cambodian National Assembly in 2011 and assistant to Cambodia’s Defense Minister from 2011 to 2012. He was honoured as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and a World Cities Summit Young Leader and has also been a recipient of numerous leadership fellowships from different parts of the world, including T-wai’s Global Emerging Voices (Italy), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, and CSIS Pacific Young Leaders Program (USA).