First Take: Election SZN 2023!
Here is an interesting fun fact: I have been present in Cambodia for the past three national elections, and the upcoming one on the 23rd of this month will mark the fourth. However, this seventh mandate will be a first as I will be able to cast my vote.
As you may be aware from a previous post in March 2023, I became a naturalized Cambodian citizen in order to become more involved in local politics. Back in 2008, while studying for the Advanced Study of Khmer (ASK) program, I gave a general presentation to my classmates about the main three political parties. During that year, I acted as an unofficial international observer at a polling station in Chak Angre, located in south Phnom Penh, alongside other journalists. In 2013, I was in town as part of the YMCA of Greater Long Beach delegation, preparing for the forthcoming A Cambodia Journey (ACJ) service learning program. Unfortunately, I don't have many memories from that time. During the last election in 2018, I had already been residing in Cambodia for almost two years but do not recall being actively involved. I believe I went on a road trip to the provinces with some friends just to escape the city.
During previous pre-election seasons, our parents living abroad tend to feel uneasy about traveling back to Cambodia due to concerns over civil unrest and street violence. As a result, they may delay their flight plans and adopt a "wait and see" approach before confirming their travel arrangements. However, I firmly believe that this year's election will be similar to the previous one: peaceful and calm.
Yesterday marked the first day of the campaign season, with loudspeakers blaring at 5:25 am. Thankfully, I was already wide awake, tending to my two fur babies. In the area of Tonle Bassac where I reside, a large crowd of CPP supporters began to gather along Street 294. There were approximately 250 individuals, mostly on motorcycles and trucks, ready to kick off the parade at around 7 am. After the crowd dispersed, I managed to get another hour of rest.
Stay tuned for Part II in a future post.