Supporters of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh
Pring Samrang / Courtesy Reuters

The Cambodian national election this Sunday will almost certainly propel the country’s sitting prime minister, the 61-year-old Hun Sen, into his fourth decade of rule. Asia’s longest-serving elected leader, Hun Sen has held power since 1985, and his Cambodian People’s Party enjoys all the advantages of decades-long incumbency: pliant government institutions, favorable media coverage, and powerful tycoon backers. The CPP has increased its share of the vote at every national poll since 1993 and currently holds 90 of the 123 seats in the National Assembly.

In Cambodia, elections have never been truly free or fair. Nor have they been peaceful. But even by Cambodian standards, circumstances this year heavily favor the ruling party. What independent election monitors delicately label “irregularities” abound. According to a recent audit of voter lists, nine percent of voter names have disappeared from the national rolls, and one in ten belongs to voters who do not exist.

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