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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Facts and Figures on Cambodia's Parliamentary Elections

Facts and Figures on Cambodia's Parliamentary Elections

July 27, 2008 (AP)

THE SYSTEM: Bicameral parliament consisting of the National Assembly, or lower house, and the Senate, the upper house. The National Assembly is elected once every five years.
The National Assembly has 123 seats. Its function is to approve laws and appoint a new government. The king, who is the head of state, signs off on all laws adopted by Parliament. He wields no executive power.

The Senate will not be affected by Sunday's ballot. It has 61 members.

ELECTORATE: 8.1 million voters above 18 years of age, more than 50 percent of whom are women, in a country of 14 million people.
King Norodom Sihamoni does not vote and cannot hold political office. Many other members of the royal family are running in the election.

POLITICAL GROUPS: Eleven political parties are running for parliamentary seats in 24 constituencies across Cambodia. There are two front-runners: Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party, a former communist party which has held power for the past 29 years; and the Sam Rainsy Party of former Finance Minister Sam Rainsy. In the outgoing parliament, CPP held 73 seats to the opposition's 24. Hun Sen has been prime minister since 1985.

THE CANDIDATES: There are a total of 1,162 candidates. Parties compete rather than candidates. Total votes received by a party in a constituency are used to calculate the number of seats occupied by its candidates in the National Assembly. There are no independent candidates.

THE ISSUES: Standard election issues like the economy, rising fuel and commodities prices, government corruption, poor health care and poverty have been upstaged by a tense border dispute with neighboring Thailand. The row prompted both countries to send troops to the border two weeks before the election. Nationalist pride was expected to propel Hun Sen to re-election.
Some 35 percent of the country's 14 million people live on less than US$.50 per day. The country depends heavily on foreign financial assistance.

VOTING HOURS: 0000 GMT to 0800 GMT, July 27.

VOTING SYSTEM: Each ballot carries the names and symbols of all 23 parties running for election. Each voter is allowed to select only one party.

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