Politics and society in contemporary Cambodia

M.J. Verver, Jake Wieczorek

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Since the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979 Cambodian politics has been dominated by Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). Hun Sen’s rise has complemented the emergence of a tight-knit elite comprising CPP ministers, lawmakers, local officials, business tycoons, police chiefs and military generals who have come to dominate and
characterise Cambodia as a patrimonial society. The profits of the subsequent widespread marketisation of Cambodia’s natural resources, cheap labour and foreign investment are distributed within this elite, whilst the majority of the population remains bereft of the advantages of economic growth. In the process of consolidating its power-base and grip over the population, the CPP has extended its influence throughout society, from the commemoration of the Khmer Rouge atrocities to the distribution of television broadcasting licences, and from the designation of land concessions to the relocation of the urban and rural poor. This Focus Section explores the extent and nature of the CPP’s fingerprint on different societal spheres, including civil society, natural resources exploitation, urban business, education, agriculture, and the arts. Taken together, the contributions here reveal a political modus operandi, with its accompanying intended and unintended consequences for Cambodia. They arrive in the context of a politics that has facilitated the CPP’s domination, but now provokes an increasing challenge to this hegemony.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-31
Number of pages3
JournalIIAS Newsletter
Issue number78
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


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