Hun Sen, CNRP at Odds Over Election Research Results

Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thursday that the U.S.-based In­ternational Republican Institute (IRI) has released to the CPP previously undisclosed results from a January survey of 2,000 eligible voters that shows 77 percent of the electorate will vote for, or are likely to vote for, his ruling party in the upcoming national election.

In a speech at the inauguration of a new pagoda building in Kompong Cham province, the prime minister said that a week after the IRI publicly released a report that found that 79 percent of Cambodians believe the country is going in the right direction, IRI had also provided additional figures to each political party about their level of support among survey respondents.

“The other parties have their own results. This is question number 13: Will you vote for the CPP? The answers are: 48 percent will vote for, 28 percent are likely to vote for, 7 percent are not likely to vote for, 15 percent will not vote for, while 1 percent said they did not know,” Mr. Hun Sen said.

“Therefore, the people who will vote for and are likely to vote for the CPP is, in total, 77 percent, and only 22 percent will not vote or are not likely to vote [for the CPP],” he said.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said Thursday that the opposition party had received a similar report from IRI that showed drastically different results.

“I got [the IRI survey] recently. [It] stated that 54 percent of people surveyed will vote for the CNRP, 30 percent will not vote [for the CNRP] while 3 percent did not know,” said Mr. Sovann.

“I don’t know where [Hun Sen] got his survey from. His claims were just to stop his activists and party leaders from being scared [of losing],” Mr. Sovann said.

IRI country director Jason Smart said that the IRI does keep internal statistics on people’s voting preferences, but has not released these statistics to political parties.

“We have internal tracking numbers that we don’t release to the parties. We meet with every party, but we don’t share this information with them,” he said.

Asked whether or not the figures cited by Mr. Hun Sen and Mr. Sovann reflected any of the IRI’s findings, Mr. Smart said he did not know.

During his speech Thursday, Mr. Hun Sen also said that, after reviewing the IRI’s survey in which 79 percent of respondents answered favorably when asked about his party’s leadership—citing more infrastructure and poverty reduction—he wanted to know why nearly a quarter of the population remained unconvinced of the ruling party’s capacity to move the country in a positive direction.

“For the 21 percent of people who said we are not going in the right direction, we have to check and see why. What are their concerns?” he asked.

According to the IRI, that 21 percent said that they did not think the country was moving in the right direction due to corruption, land grabbing, poverty and nepotism.

(Additional reporting by Colin Meyn)

© 2013, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.