Cambodia's National Elections 2023: A Crucial Crossroad for Democracy

Cambodia's National Elections 2023: A Crucial Crossroad for Democracy
A photo from CNN World. An election rally for the ruling Cambodia People's Party takes place in Phnom Penh on July 1, 2023.


Anna Vu kim

Southeast Asia and Pacific and Human Rights Researchers

Global Human Rights Defence

As Cambodia gears up for its national elections in 2023, the nation finds itself at a pivotal juncture in its democratic journey. These elections carry immense significance not only for the Cambodian people but also for the region and the international community. In this article, we will explore the context, key players, and the potential implications of Cambodia's upcoming national elections.

Cambodia's political landscape has been marked by a series of critical developments in recent years. The country has experienced a gradual erosion of democratic institutions, restrictions on civil liberties, and a shrinking space for political opposition. The ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP), led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, has maintained a firm grip on power for more than three decades.

The lead-up to the 2023 elections has been fraught with challenges and controversies, including the dissolution of the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), in 2017. This move left the CPP as the dominant political force in the country, leading to questions about the fairness and competitiveness of future elections.

Key Players

Cambodian People's Party (CPP): Led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, the CPP has held power since 1985 and currently dominates the National Assembly. It seeks to maintain its grip on power in the 2023 elections. Opposition Movements: Although the CNRP was dissolved, various opposition movements and individuals have emerged to challenge the status quo. These include former CNRP members and civil society activists who aim to promote democratic principles and human rights.
International Community: International observers, including the United Nations and other global organizations, will closely monitor the elections to ensure fairness and transparency. Several countries, especially in the West, have expressed concerns about Cambodia's democratic backsliding.

Sources and further reading:

UN News (August 2, 2023). Cambodia: National elections ‘extremely disconcerting’, say human rights experts. Retrieved on September 6, 2023, from