The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has dismissed calls for an amendment to the election law that would limit campaign budgets as “unjust”.
The rejection came after four political parties – Candlelight (CP), Grassroots Democratic (GDP), Cambodian Reform (CRP) and Khmer Will (KWP) – held a September 2 press conference suggesting that the changes would ensure transparency and equality during election campaign seasons.
Representatives of the four parties included the suggestion in their list of 16 proposals submitted to the National Election Committee (NEC) on August 31.
However, CPP spokesman Sok Eysan rebuffed the proposal.
“If they want to make a demand like this, they should simply ask the state to be responsible for any party registered with the NEC. The state would then provide equal funding to each party. This could be possible,” he mused.
Eysan pointed out that the CPP’s funds for each election campaign come from supporters.
“The CPP has more than six million [members]. If each of them donated just $1, it would be $6 million in total. It’s different,” he said.
KWP president Kong Monika insisted that the amount spent by each party on campaigning be determined by the law.
“How much money can you get from an Oknha or a rich donor?” he said in reference to individuals bestowed with the royal title for their contributions to national development.
“Everyone has the right to support their favourite party, of course, but there should be a limit,” he added.
The young politician went on to criticise several parties’ campaigning in the past as disturbing the daily lives of the public, because of their scale.
“We saw that each party approached their campaign in a different way. The ruling party was able to gather large numbers of people in the capital and provinces. It is clear that they spent a lot of money on their activities, but we don’t know exactly how much or where it came from.
“As for the smaller parties who did not have as much of a budget, we just did the best we could,” he said.
Eysan countered new parties should not compare themselves to the CPP, as it has many supporters and has stood for decades. Thanks to its vast experience, he said the CPP is skilled at managing its budget and finding sources of funding.
Article 28 of the Law on Political Parties stipulates that the state shall provide equal funds to all parties contesting the parliamentary election campaign. However, any party that does not receive three per cent of the total number of votes in the country or does not win a seat in the National Assembly must repay the full amount within three months of final election results being announced.
The source of income for a legitimate political party can come from the contributions of members or donations from private businesses and philanthropists.