Political Parties in Cambodia in 2024

Political Parties in Cambodia

Cambodia is currently a constitutional monarchy under either a dominant party system, or a one party system, depending on your take on things. The only party currently in parliament is the Cambodian Peoples Party, although opposition parties exist at lower levels of government and have been represented in parliament before.

Quite how effective the opposition is, or is allowed to be has been open to debate and has caused some issues with western donors.

Party of Government – Cambodian Peoples Party

The Cambodian Peoples Party was formed in 1989 as a reformation of the Kampuchean Peoples Revolutionary Party. It traces its lineage to 1951 and disavows the period of the Workers Party of Kampuchea, the Communist Party of Kampuchea and thus the Khmer Rouge of Pol Pot. They are though the last vestige of a communist party in Cambodia.

Represented in Senate – FUNCINPEC

FUNCINPEC, or rather the National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful and Cooperative Cambodia were the royalist party of Sihanouk and his family. Arguably won the 1993 election before being ousted in the civil war of 1998. Have largely faded into insignificance since then.

Opposition party – Candlelight Party

Formerly the Sam Rainsy Party they have gone through a number of controversial events that have seen major leaders sometimes controversially imprisoned. Did not take part in the last elections. Have been accused of being US puppets as well as espousing a huge degree of anti-Vietnamese xenophobia.

Other Cambodian Political Parties

Although most of these parties do not have national seats they are active in rural areas, with party posters visible when you drive around the country.

Khmer National United Party – A centre-right breakaway party from FUNCINPEC. Briefly held some seats, but are now largely irrelevant.

Grassroots Democratic Party – Social-Democratic Party formed by former BGO’s

Cambodia National Love Party – Very little is known about this almost cult like party.

Beehive Social Democratic Party – Technically the most left-wing of all opposition parties. Came 7th put of 20 parties in 2016.

League for Democracy Party – Despite the nice sounding name this largely Siem Reap based party is little more than a cult. In 2022 its leader told the masses the world would end so they rushed to his house. The world did not end. Khem Veasna is their leader.

Khmer Anti-Poverty Party – A US formed party who despite the name are not at all left-wing, nor seemingly that anti-poverty. They remain platform is to be like America.

Khmer Republican Party – Despite their name they officially at least do not advocate republicanism. Formed by Lon Rith son of Lon Nol, who was president of the Khmer Republic. Run on a free market platform, but have never gotten near a seat, showing how unpopular the Lon family are.

Modern Rebel Groups in Cambodia

Realistically there are now no rebel groups in Cambodia, with the country in its most peaceful incarnation in almost 100 years. There is though at least some groups either accused, or active as rebel groups.

One of these is the Cambodian National Rescue Party, itself related to both the Sam Rainsy and Candlelight Parties. These have been accused by Premier Hun Sen of being a “rebel group”.

Another active group have been the Cambodian Freedom Fighters who were formed in 1998 in order to “fight communism”. In reality they were simply Royalist anti-CPP rebels also taking advantage of the vacuum left by the Khmer Rouge. They were largely active until 2001, with many members imprisoned by 2008.

They are though still active to some degree in Northeast Cambodia with primary finances provided by dug trafficking and from Khmer-Americans who are against the CPP. It has also been alleged that they have received at least some support from the CIA, as well as Thai intelligence.