Cambodian general election, 1955

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Cambodian parliamentary election, 1955
1951 ←
1955 → 1958

All 91 seats to the National Assembly
46 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  Sihanouk 1959.jpg Sin foto.svg
Leader Norodom Sihanouk Norodom Phurissara
Party Sangkum Democratic Party
Last election Did not Contest
Seats before Did not Contest 54
Seats won 91 0
Seat change Increase91 Decrease54
Popular vote 630,625 93,921
Percentage 82.7% 12.3%

The first parliamentary elections in Cambodia were held in 1955. The elections were held following the peace established at the 1954 Geneva Conference and the independence of the country. The election were postponed to September 1955.[1] The result was a victory for the Sangkum party, which won all 91 seats.[2]

Participating parties[edit]

  • Sangkum: In October 1954 the royal government formed an alliance with four small political parties, including Dap Chhuon's Victorious North-East and Lon Nol's Khmer Renovation. In February 1954 the alliance was transformed into Sangkum Reastr Niyum (Popular Socialist Community). The leader of Sangkum, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, held that Sangkum was not a political party per se, but Sangkum essentially functioned as the pro-Sihanouk political party.[1] Sangkum contested all of the 91 seats.[3]
  • Democratic Party: The leadership of the Democratic Party was significantly radicalized during 1954, as left-leaning students returned to Cambodia from France. By February 1955, the radicals had wrested control over the party. Many of the new leaders had been members of the 'Marxist Circle' in Paris. Prince Norodom Phurissara became the general secretary of the party.[4] The Democratic Party contested all 91 seats.[1]
  • Krom Pracheachon: The outcome of the Geneva talks provided that former communist rebels would have been protected by the International Commission of Supervision and Control during the election campaign, but in reality such guarantees were not given. With this backdrop, thousands of the communist rebels had left for (North) Vietnam.[5] In the end of 1954, a group of communist leaders in Phnom Penh, Keo Meas, Non Suon and Penn Yuth, had tried to organize a legal 'Khmer Resistance Party'. Its registration was, however, refused by the authorities. In the beginning of 1955 the group was able to register themselves under a different name, the Krom Pracheachon (People's Group). Pracheachon was essentially the front of the underground Khmer People's Revolutionary Party. Nuon Chea shifted from his rural base, to become the Phnom Penh city party secretary of Pracheachon. The young Saloth Sar (Pol Pot) was also involved in organizing the Pracheachon.[6] During the campaign, the group was subjected to harassment by the government. As a result, the group could only present candidates in 35 seats.[4]
  • Thanists: The Thanhist Pracheachollana (People's Movement) had lost much of its political appeal, after the nationalist stalwart Son Ngoc Thanh had been rejected by Sihanouk and left for the Thai border.[6]


Party Votes % Seats +/-
Sangkum 630,625 82.7 91 New
Democratic Party 93,921 12.3 0 -54
Pracheachon 29,505 3.9 0 New
Liberal Party 5,488 0.7 0 -18
Nationalist Party 1,140 0.1 0 -2
Khmer Ekreach 770 0.1 0 New
Khmer Labour Party 289 0.0 0 New
Independents 546 0.1 0 0
Total 761,744 100 91 +13
Source: Nohlen et al.

Accusations of fraud[edit]

Afterwards, accusations of massive electoral fraud arose. Kiernan (1985) notes that there were constituencies where the communists were judged to have strong popular support in which the Pracheachon candidates didn't obtain a single vote. In Memot, where communist guerrillas had been strong during the war and where there was a strong leftist following amongst rubber plantation workers, official figures gave 6149 votes for Sangkum, 99 for the Democrats and 0 votes for the Pracheachon candidate Sok Saphai.[7]

Sihanouk himself implicitly admitted the fraud in a 1958 publication. He mentions 39 districts of the country as 'red' or 'pink', based on the 1955 voting. Several of the district he points out as communist strongholds in the 1955 elections, were constituencies where Pracheachon candidates officially had obtained few votes or none at all.[3]


  1. ^ a b c Kiernan, Ben. How Pol Pot Came to Power. London: Verso, 1985. p. 158.
  2. ^ Nohlen, D, Grotz, F & Hartmann, C (2001) Elections in Asia: A data handbook, Volume II, p74 ISBN 0-19-924959-8
  3. ^ a b Kiernan, Ben. How Pol Pot Came to Power. London: Verso, 1985. p. 162.
  4. ^ a b Kiernan, Ben. How Pol Pot Came to Power. London: Verso, 1985. p. 157-158.
  5. ^ Kiernan, Ben. How Pol Pot Came to Power. London: Verso, 1985. p. 153-154.
  6. ^ a b Kiernan, Ben. How Pol Pot Came to Power. London: Verso, 1985. p. 156-157.
  7. ^ Kiernan, Ben. How Pol Pot Came to Power. London: Verso, 1985. p. 160.