Election fever hits Angkor Wat

Sam Rainsy is holding the flag on the stairs.

I picked an extremely interesting time to visit Cambodia. The federal election is on this weekend and while most people believe that there will be no change in government, it’s really buzzing because the opposition now have a bit of extra firepower.

Nix (bestie) and I have been asking locals (mainly tuk tuk drivers) who they support and most say the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP). The opposition represents change. Their leader, Sam Rainsy, was in self-imposed exile until last week and came home after he was given a royal pardon for charges that many believed were politically motivated. Most of the signs and rallies that we’ve seen were for the current party in government, the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), so it was extra exciting to see the man himself on our day trip to the beautiful ruins at Angkor Wat. We had heard that Rainsy was in Siem Reap, and it makes sense for him to visit a site with such national significance.

The CPP have been in power for about 30 years and will probably win again. But it seems like they are genuinely nervous about this election. Sam Rainsy must scare them. They have gone all out in terms of campaign presence on the streets and we even heard that they are “threatening” to “take back” the things that they’ve “given” the country – infrastructure, schools, hospitals – if they lose. It’s a pretty heated situation. We are leaving Cambodia for Thailand on Friday but I’ll definitely be watching what happens.



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