Politics of Cambodia

Politics of Cambodia

The politics of Cambodia formally takes place according to the nation's constitution (enacted in 1993) in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic monarchy, whereby the Prime Minister of Cambodia is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, the National Assembly of Cambodia and the Senate

Executive branch

Norodom Sihamoni|
14 October 2004
Prime Minister
Hun Sen
1985The Prime Minister of Cambodia is a representative from the ruling party of the National Assembly. He or she is appointed by the King on the recommendation of the President and Vice Presidents of the National Assembly. In order for a person to become Prime Minister, he or she must first be given a vote of confidence by the National Assembly.

The Prime Minister is officially the Head of Government in Cambodia. Upon entry into office, he appoints a Council of Ministers who are responsible to the Prime Minister. Officially, the Prime Minister's duties include chairing meetings of the Council of Ministers (Cambodia's version of a Cabinet) and appointing and leading a government. The Prime Minister and his government make up Cambodia's executive branch of government.

The current Cambodian Prime Minister is Cambodian's People Party (CPP) member [staged a bloody coup in Phnom Penh [http://cambodia.ohchr.org/Documents/Statements%20and%20Speeches/English/40.pdf] [http://www.hri.org/docs/statedep/1997/97-07-08.std.html] to overthrow elected Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, president of the FUNCINPEC party.

Legislative branch

The legislative branch of the Cambodian government is made up of a bicameral parliament.
*The National Assembly of Cambodia ("Radhsaphea ney Preah Reacheanachak Kampuchea") has 123 members, elected for a five-year term by proportional representation.
*The Senate ("Sénat") has 61 members. Two of these members are appointed by the King, two are elected by the lower house of the government, and the remaining fifty-seven are elected popularly by "functional constituencies." Members in this house serve a five-year term.

The official duty of the Parliament is to legislate and make laws. Bills passed by the Parliament are given to the King who gives the proposed bills Royal Assent. The King does not have veto power over bills passed by the National Assembly (the lower house) and, thus, cannot withhold Royal Assent. The National Assembly also has the power to dismiss the Prime Minister and his government by a two-thirds vote of no confidence.


The upper house of the Cambodian legislature is called the "Senate". It consists of sixty-one members. Two of these members are appointed by the King, two are elected by the lower house of the government, and the remaining fifty-seven are elected popularly by "functional constituencies." Members in this house serve six year terms.

Elections were last held for the Senate in 1999. New elections were supposed to have occurred in 2004, but these elections were initially postponed. On January 22, 2006, 11,352 possible voters went to the poll and chose their candidates. This election was criticized by local monitoring non-governmental organizations as being undemocratic [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4638406.stm] .

As of 2006, the Cambodian People's Party holds forty-three seats in the Senate, constituting a significant majority. The two other major parties holding seats in the Senate are the Funcinpec party (holding twelve seats) and the Sam Rainsy Party (holding two seats).

National Assembly

The lower house of the legislature is called the "National Assembly". It is made up of 123 members, elected by popular vote to serve a five-year term. Elections were last held for the National Assembly in 2003, with the next elections scheduled for July 2008.

In order to vote in legislative elections, one must be at least eighteen years of age. However, in order to be elected to the Legislature, one must be at least twenty-five years of age.

The National Assembly is led by a President and two Vice Presidents who are selected by Assembly members prior to each session.

As of 2005, the Cambodian People's Party holds a majority of the seats in the National Assembly, controlling seventy-three out of the 123 seats. The Funcinpec party holds twenty-six seats, while the Sam Rainsy Party holds the remaining twenty-four seats.

Political parties and elections

Latest elections

2003-07-27 National Assembly Elections Results

Source: http://www.necelect.org.kh/English/ElectionResult/Result_2003/Result_2003.html

2006-01-22 Senate Elections Results

Sources: [http://www.senate.gov.kh/senator/english/ListSenatorEng.htm List of Senators]

[http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4638406.stm Ruling party wins Cambodia poll]

Judicial branch

The judicial branch is independent from the rest of the government, as specified by the Cambodian Constitution. The highest court of judicial branch is the Supreme Council of the Magistracy. Other, lower courts also exist. Until 1997, Cambodia didn't have a judicial branch of government despite the nation's Constitution requiring one.

The main duties of the judiciary are to prosecute criminals, settle lawsuits, and, most importantly, protect the freedoms and rights of Cambodian citizens. However, in reality, the judicial branch in Cambodia is highly corrupt and often serves as a tool of the executive branch to silence civil society and its leaders [http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/01/18/cambod12269.htm] .


Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy, i.e. the King reigns but does not rule, in similar fashion to Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. The King is officially the Head of State and is the symbol of unity and "eternity" of the nation, as defined by Cambodia's constitution.

From September 24 1993 through October 7 2004, Norodom Sihanouk reigned as King. Under the Constitution, the King has no political power, but as Norodom Sihanouk was revered in the country, his word often carried much influence in the government. For example, in February 2004, he issued a proclamation stating that since Cambodia is a "liberal democracy," the Kingdom should allow gay marriage. While such views aren't prevalent in Cambodia, his word was respected by his subjects. The King, often irritated over the conflicts in his government, several times threatened to abdicate unless the political factions in the government got along. This put pressure on the government to solve their differences. This influence of the King was often used to help mediate differences in government.

After the abdication of King Norodom Sihanouk in 2004, he was succeeded by his son Norodom Sihamoni. While the retired King is highly revered in his country for dedicating his lifetime to Cambodia, the current King has spent most of his life abroad in France. Thus, it remains to be seen whether the new king's views will be as highly respected as his father's.

Although in the ).

On the occasion of HM King Norodom Sihanouk's retirement in September 2004, the Cambodian National Assembly coined a new word for the retired king: "preahmâhaviraksat" (Khmer regular script: "virile". "Preahmâhaviraksat" is translated in English as "King-Father" ( _fr. Roi-Père), although the word "father" does not appear in the Khmer noun.

As "preahmâhaviraksat", Norodom Sihanouk retains many of the prerogatives he formerly held as "preahmâhaksat" and is a highly respected and listened-to figure. Thus, in effect, Cambodia can be described as a country with two heads of state: an official one, the "preahmâhaksat" Norodom Sihamoni, and an unofficial one, the "preahmâhaviraksat" Norodom Sihanouk.

uccession to the Throne

Unlike most monarchies, Cambodia's monarchy isn't necessarily hereditary and the King is not allowed to select his own heir. Instead, a new King is chosen by a Royal Council of the Throne, consisting of the president of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister, the Chiefs of the orders of Mohanikay and Thammayut, and the First and Second Vice-President of the Assembly. The Royal Council meets within a week of the King's death or abdication and selects a new King from a pool of candidates with royal blood.

It has been suggested that Cambodia's ability to peacefully appoint a new King shows that Cambodia's government has stabilized incredibly from the situation the country was in during the 1970s (see History of Cambodia).

International organization participation

ACCT, AsDB, ASEAN, CP, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), International Monetary Fund, Interpol, IOC, ISO (subscriber), ITU, NAM, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WB, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, WToO, WTrO (applicant)

Provincial and local governments

Below the central government are 24 provincial and municipal administration."Private Solutions for Infrastructure in Cambodia: A Country Framework Report". World Bank (2002), [http://books.google.com/books?id=ktRy_5sKrGEC&pg=PA65&sig=hu1tsbqolFnZgX3g4mOpv87NarE p65] . ISBN 0821350765.] (In rural areas, first-level administrative divisions are called provinces; in urban areas, they are called municipalities.) The administrations are a part of the Ministry of the Interior and their members are appointed by the central government. Provincial and municipal administrations participate in the creation of nation budget; they also issue land titles and license businesses.

Since 2002, commune-level governments (commune councils) have been composed of members directly elected by commune residents every five years. [ [http://www.embassyofcambodia.org.nz/March2007/March2007-3.htm Untitled Document ] ]

In practice, the allocation of responsibilities between various levels of government is uncertain. This uncertainty has created additional opportunities for corruption and increased costs for investors.


* [http://www.constitution.org/cons/cambodia.htm Constitution of Cambodia]


External links


* [http://www.norodomsihamoni.net King of Cambodia, Norodom Sihamoni] Official Website of King Norodom Sihamoni
* [http://www.norodomsihanouk.info King of Cambodia, Norodom Sihanouk] Official Website of former King Norodom Sihanouk


* [http://www.cambodia.gov.kh/unisql1/egov/english/home.frame.html Cambodia.gov.kh] Official Royal Government of Cambodia Website (English Version) ( [http://www.cambodia.gov.kh/unisql2/egov/khmer/home.view.html Cambodia.gov.kh Khmer Version] )
* [http://www.cdc-crdb.gov.kh CDC] Council for the Development of Cambodia
* [http://www.ccc.gov.kh/ Conseil Constitutionnel du Cambodge] Constitution council of Cambodia
* [http://www.maff.gov.kh/ Department of Fisheries]
* [http://www.foodsecurity.gov.kh/ Food Security and Nutrition Information System Cambodia]
* [http://www.moc.gov.kh/ Ministry of Commerce]
* [http://www.moi-coci.gov.kh/culture/ Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts]
* [http://www.mef.gov.kh/ Ministry of Economy and Finance]
* [http://www.moeys.gov.kh Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport]
* [http://www.camnet.com.kh/moe Ministry of Environment]
* [http://www.mptc.gov.kh/ Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications]
* [http://www.mpwt.gov.kh/ Ministry of Public Works and Transport]
* [http://www.mot.gov.kh Ministry of Tourism]
* [http://www.nida.gov.kh/ NiDA] National Information Communications Technology Development Authority
* [http://www.nis.gov.kh/ NIS] National Institute of Statistics of Cambodia


Overview Article on Cambodia's Contemporary Political Economy: [http://www.yorku.ca/ycar/CCSEAS%20Papers/Simon%20Springer%20-%20The%20Neoliberal%20'Order'%20In%20Cambodia.pdf "The Neoliberal 'Order' in Cambodia: Political Violence, Democracy, and the Contestation of Public Space"] by Simon Springer, PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

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