Cambodian People’s Party

Published 1st August, 2013

The Cambodian People’s Party or CPP was formerly known as the Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Party (KPRP). It was founded in its original name in 1981 and changed to the CPP in 1991. The party describes itself as centre-left and believes in Reformed Socialism and Social Democracy, although formerly it was a Communist and Marxist-Leninist party.

The KPRP originated from the Indo-Chinese Communist Party which was founded by Ho Chi Minh in 1930. That party divided in 1951 into separate parties for Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. They in turn formed the party which eventually became known as the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot and which committed great hardship and atrocities on its people between 1975 and 1979. The Khmer Rouge purged elements of the Vietnamese leaning communists from its ranks and subsequently these communists opposed Pol Pot and formed the Kampuchean National United Front for National Salvation (KNUFNS).

When the Vietnamese overthrew the Pol Pot regime in 1979 it was these elements, including current Prime Minister Hun Sen, who formed the KPRP. Under the 1981 constitution the KPRP became the sole legitimate party and remained so until 1991.

After the Paris Peace Agreement of 1991 the KPRP changed its name to the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and accepted a multi-party democratic system. At the same time the party renounced Marxism-Leninism and reorganised itself as a ‘broad church’ party.

In the first democratic election of 1993 the party won 51 seats and was the second largest party in the Constituent Assembly. The largest party, the Front Uni National pour un Cambodge Indépendant, Neutre, Pacifique, et Coopératif or FUNCINPEC was forced into a power sharing arrangement with the CPP in which Hun Sen became the Second Prime Minister in a joint leadership with Norodom Sihanouk who was the First Prime Minister. It didn’t last and in 1997 the parties clashed and the CPP emerged victorious and called fresh elections in 1998.

In the 1998 elections the CPP won 64 of the 123 seats in the National Assembly and took control of the government once more. They won again in 2003 with 73 seats and in 2008 took 90 seats. All these elections have been questioned by the international community as to their legitimacy as free and fair elections.

Again in 2013 the CPP appears to have won the election but with a much reduced majority of 67 seats and may be forced into a power sharing arrangement with the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), formerly the Sam Rainsy Party.

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