Partyforumseasia: For many years Cambdia’s opposition has been divided and rather helpless against the dominance of the ruling CPP. After long and difficult negotiations, Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party eventually merged in view of the upcoming national elections in 2012. For outside observers the two parties had looked sufficiently compatible, both with members from the former Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party and with similar liberal affinities. Merging parties is never easy, but the two leaders, Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha and the respective leadership finally managed to pave the way for a real challenge to PM Hun Sen’s CPP. The parliamentary election on 28 July 2013, prepared by a surprise return of Sam Rainsy from exile, turned out to be a landslide in favor of the new CNRP but short of victory. The official results, 55 seats against 68 for the CPP, was immediately questioned by Sam Rainsy and the CNRP which boycotted the Cambodian parliament as a consequence. The details of the election results are rather neck to neck: 3,235,969 votes (48.83%) for the CPP and 2,946,176 votes (44.46%) for the CNRP. Without its dominance in the rural constituencies the CPP had in all probability lost this election.
The parliamentary boycott, however, ended a year later, in July 2014, with a surprise compromise between PM Hun Sen and CNRP leader Sam Rainsy (see our post here).