On the streets of Phnom Penh, everyone is asking the same question: did you or didn’t you vote? But the answer is obvious. Those who voted in Sunday’s problematic general election sport dark brown ink stains on their index fingers. Those with ‘clean fingers’, by contrast, appear to have backed exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s call for an election boycott. Cambodia’s July 29 elections were fought not along conventional party lines, but around the single issue of turnout. At least 25 countries have made use of semi-permanent election ink, ostensibly to curtail fraudulent voting. The ink is supposed to stop people from voting more than once. In Cambodia, election ink has assumed a new significance: its purpose was to maximize voter turnout, by putting pressure on citizens to participate in an election that many of them viewed as farcical.
While the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), led by longstanding prime minister Hun Sen, has dominated Cambodian politics for decades, the 2013 general election showed big gains for the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), which took 44% of the popular vote, and almost half of the seats in parliament. The CNRP made another strong showing in the 2017 commune council elections, and looked on course to win a plurality of seats in the 2018 general election.
Spooked by the very real prospect of losing power at the ballot box, the CPP regime took drastic action to neuter the opposition. In November 2017, the Cambodian Supreme Court dissolved the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), following allegations of a foreign plot to remove longstanding prime minister Hun Sen from office.
Full Article: The trouble with turnout at Cambodia’s election | Asia Times.