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Cambodian People's Party

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Cambodian People's Party
Khmer nameគណបក្សប្រជាជនកម្ពុជា
KPRP (before 1991)
PresidentHun Sen
Vice PresidentsSay Chhum
Sar Kheng
Tea Banh
Men Sam An[1]
Hun Manet
FoundersSơn Ngọc Minh
Tou Samouth
Founded28 June 1951; 72 years ago (1951-06-28)[2]
Split fromIndochinese Communist Party
Headquarters7 January Palace[3]
203 Norodom Boulevard, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Youth wingPeople's Revolutionary Youth Union of Kampuchea (1979–1989)
Central Youth of the Cambodian People's Party (present)
Military wingKampuchean People's Revolutionary Armed Forces (1979–1989)
Cambodian People's Armed Forces (1989–1993)
Membership (2023)Increase 7,100,000[4]
Political positionBig tent
National affiliationSolidarity Front for Development of the Cambodian Motherland
International affiliationCentrist Democrat International
Colors  Sky blue
Slogan"ឯករាជ្យ សន្តិភាព សេរីភាព ប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ អព្យាក្រឹត និងវឌ្ឍនភាពសង្គម"
("Independence, Peace, Freedom, Democracy, Neutrality and Social Progress")
("Anthem of the Cambodian People's Party")
55 / 62
National Assembly
120 / 125
Commune chiefs
1,648 / 1,652
Commune councillors
9,376 / 11,622
Provincial, municipal, town and district councillors[10]
4,034 / 4,114
Provincial Governors
25 / 25

The Cambodian People's Party (CPP)[a] is a Cambodian political party which has ruled the country since 1979. Founded in 1951, it was originally known as the Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party (KPRP).[b]

During the Cold War it allied itself with Vietnam and the Soviet Union, in contrast to the pro-Chinese Communist Party of Kampuchea led by Pol Pot.[11] After toppling the Khmer Rouge's Democratic Kampuchea regime with the Vietnamese-backed liberation of Phnom Penh, it became the ruling party of the People's Republic of Kampuchea (1979–1989), which was later renamed the State of Cambodia (1989–1991). The party's current name was adopted during the final year of the State of Cambodia, when the party abandoned the one-party system and Marxism–Leninism.

Originally rooted in communist and Marxist–Leninist ideologies, the party took on a more reformist outlook in the mid-1980s under Heng Samrin. In 1991, the CPP officially dropped its commitment to socialism, and has since embraced a mixed economy. Along with some major parties of the European centre-right, the CPP is a member of the Centrist Democrat International.

The party's rule has been described as authoritarian.[12][13]


Forerunner organizations and early history[edit]

Nationalists in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos held the belief that to successfully liberate themselves from France they needed to work together; the nationalists formed the supranational Indochinese Communist Party (ICP) to oppose the French in 1930.

However, the triumph of the Japanese during the early stage of World War II crippled French rule and helped to nurture nationalism in all three Indochinese countries. Consequently, the idea of an Indochinese-wide party was submerged in the rhetoric of fierce nationalism. In Cambodia, growing nationalist sentiment and national pride married historical mistrust and fear of neighbouring countries, which turned out to be a stumbling block for the ICP. On 28 June 1951, the Cambodian nationalists who struggled to free Cambodia from French colonial rule split from the ICP to form the Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party (KPRP).

In 1955, the KPRP established a subsidiary party named the Pracheachon in order to run in the national election that year. The name of the party was changed to the Workers' Party of Kampuchea (WPK) on 28 September 1960 and then to the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) in 1966. Members of the CPK moved the party's headquarters to Ratanakiri Province, where they were termed "Khmer Rouge" by Prince Norodom Sihanouk.

Pen Sovan's leadership (1979–1981)[edit]

In early 1979, the Cambodian communists who overthrew the Khmer Rouge's regime to end the genocide held a congress. At this gathering, they declared themselves the true successors of the original KPRP founded in 1951 and labelled the congress as the Third Party Congress, thus not recognizing the 1963, 1975 and 1978 congresses of CPK as legitimate. The party considered 28 June 1951 as its founding date. A national committee led by Pen Sovan and Roh Samai was appointed by the Congress. The women's wing of the party, the National Association of Women for the Salvation of Kampuchea, was also established in 1979 with a vast national network of members that extended to the district level.

The existence of the party was kept secret until its 4th congress in May 1981, when it appeared publicly and assumed the name KPRP. The name-change was stated to be carried out "to clearly distinguish it from the reactionary Pol Pot party and to underline and reassert the continuity of the party's best traditions".

Heng Samrin's leadership (1981–1991)[edit]

As of 1990, members of the Politburo were Heng Samrin (General Secretary), Chea Sim, Hun Sen, Chea Soth, Math Ly, Tea Banh, Men Sam An, Nguon Nhel, Sar Kheng, Bou Thang, Ney Pena, Say Chhum and alternate members included Sing Song, Sim Ka and Pol Saroeun. Members of the Secretariat were Heng Samrin, Say Phouthang, Bou Thang, Men Sam An and Sar Kheng.

Hun Sen's leadership (1991–2023)[edit]

Hun Sen addresses the crowd at a campaign rally in Phnom Penh.

In 1991, the party was renamed to the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) during a United Nations-sponsored peace and reconciliation process. Politburo and the Secretariat to enter into the new Standing Committee, Chea Sim as President and Hun Sen as Vice-president. Despite being rooted in socialism, the party adopted a pragmatic approach in order to keep power. For instance, the CPP played a major role in Cambodian peace negotiation process, which led to the signing of the Paris Peace Accords on 23 October 1991 and the creation of the second Kingdom of Cambodia. The CPP ousted Nodorom Ranariddh in a coup in 1997, leaving the party with no serious opposition. Thirty-two people died in the coup.

Under CPP rule, Cambodia transitioned into a lower-middle-income economy in 2016. The party aims to turn Cambodia into a higher-middle-income country by 2030 and high-income country by 2050. Ideologically, an increasing number of CPP senior leaders claim that the Cambodian ruling party has adopted a centrist position. They believe that the CPP presents a middle path between capitalism and communism, with emphasis on the values and principles of social market economy along with social and environmental protection, and Buddhist humanism. However, academics such as John Ciorciari have observed that the CPP still continues to maintain its communist-era party structures and that many of its top-ranking members were derived from KPRP. Also, despite Hun Sen being only the deputy leader of the party until 2015, he had de facto control of the party.

It won 64 of the 123 seats in the National Assembly in the 1998 elections, 73 seats in the 2003 elections and 90 seats in the 2008 elections, winning the popular vote by the biggest margin ever for a National Assembly election with 58% of the vote. The CPP also won the 2006 Senate elections. The party lost 22 seats in the 2013 elections, with opposition gained. Since 2018 Cambodian general election, the party commands all 125 seats in the National Assembly, and 58 of 62 seats in the Senate. The main opposition, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was banned before the election.[14] Hun Sen, the former Prime Minister of Cambodia, has served as the CPP's President since 2015.

Party leadership (1979–1993)[edit]

  • Heng Samrin:
    • General Secretary of the KPRP (1981–1991)
    • Chairman of the Revolutionary Council (later the Council of State) (1979–1992)
  • Chea Sim:
    • Minister of the Interior (1979–1981)
    • President of the National Assembly (1981–92),
    • Chairman of the Council of State (1992–1994)
  • Pen Sovan:
    • Minister of Defense (1979–1981);
    • General Secretary of the KPRP (1979–81);
    • Prime Minister (1981)
  • Hun Sen:
    • Minister of Foreign Affairs (1979–1986; 1987–1990);
    • Deputy Prime Minister (1981–85),
    • Prime Minister (1985–1993)
  • Chan Sy:
    • Minister of defense (1981–1982),
    • Prime Minister (1981–1984)
  • Say Phouthang:
    • Vice President of the State Council (1979–1993)
  • Chea Soth:
    • Minister of Planning (1982–1986),
    • Deputy Prime Minister (1982–1992)
  • Bou Thang:
    • Deputy Prime Minister (1982–1992),
    • Minister of Defense (1982–1986)
  • Math Ly:
    • Vice President of the National Assembly
  • Kong Korm:
    • Minister of Foreign Affairs (1986–1987)
  • Hor Namhong:
    • Minister of Foreign Affairs (1990–1993)

List of party leaders[edit]

President of the Cambodian People's Party
Emblem of the Cambodian People's Party
Hun Sen
since 20 June 2015
TypeParty leader
SeatPhnom Penh, Cambodia
Formation28 June 1951; 72 years ago (1951-06-28)
First holderTou Samouth
as General Secretary
DeputyVice President

  KPRP (General Secretary)   CPP (President)

Portrait Name
Term of office Office held Vice President
From To Duration
1 Tou Samouth
ទូ សាមុត
21 September 1951 30 September 1960 9 years, 9 days
2 Pen Sovan
ប៉ែន សុវណ្ណ
5 January 1979 5 December 1981 2 years, 334 days Minister of Defence (1979–1981)

Prime Minister (1981)

3 Heng Samrin
ហេង សំរិន
(born 1934)
5 December 1981 17 October 1991 9 years, 316 days Chairman of the People's Revolutionary Council (1979–1981), President of the Council of State (1981–1992), President of the National Assembly (2006–2023)
4 Chea Sim
ជា ស៊ីម
17 October 1991 8 June 2015 23 years, 234 days Chairman of the National Assembly (1981–1993),

President of the Council of State (1992–1993), President of the Senate (1999–2015)

Hun Sen
5 Hun Sen
ហ៊ុន សែន
(born 1952)
20 June 2015 Present 8 years, 361 days Minister of Foreign Affairs (1979–1986, 1988–1990),

Prime Minister (1985–2023), President of the Senate (2024–)

Sar Kheng
Say Chhum
Men Sam An
Tea Banh
Hun Manet


The party is headed by a 34-member Permanent Committee, commonly referred to as the Politburo (after its former Communist namesake). The current members are (with their party positions in brackets):

Recent electoral history[edit]

General election[edit]

Year Party leader Candidate Votes Seats Position Government
# % ± # ±
1981 Pen Sovan 2,898,709 90.3 New
117 / 117
New Increase 1st KPRP
1993 Chea Sim Hun Sen 1,533,471 38.2 Decrease 52.1
51 / 120
1998 2,030,790 41.4 Increase 3.2
64 / 122
Increase 13 Increase 1st CPP–FUNCINPEC
2003 2,447,259 47.3 Increase 5.9
73 / 123
Increase 9 Steady 1st CPP–FUNCINPEC
2008 3,492,374 58.1 Increase 10.8
90 / 123
Increase 17 Steady 1st CPP–FUNCINPEC
2013 3,235,969 48.8 Decrease 9.3
68 / 123
Decrease 22 Steady 1st CPP
2018 Hun Sen 4,889,113 76.8 Increase 28.0
125 / 125
Increase 57 Steady 1st CPP
2023 Hun Sen Hun Manet 6,398,311 82.3 Increase 5.5
120 / 125
Decrease 5 Steady 1st CPP

Communal elections[edit]

Year Leader Votes Chiefs Councillors Position
# % ± # ± # ±
2002[15] Hun Sen 2,647,849 60.9 New
1,598 / 1,621
7,552 / 11,261
New Increase 1st
2007[16] 3,148,533 60.8 Decrease 0.1
1,591 / 1,621
Decrease 7
7,993 / 11,353
Increase 441 Steady 1st
2012[17] 3,631,082 61.8 Increase 1.0
1,592 / 1,633
Increase 1
8,292 / 11,459
Increase 299 Steady 1st
2017[18] 3,540,056 50.8 Decrease 11.0
1,156 / 1,646
Decrease 436
6,503 / 11,572
Decrease 1,789 Steady 1st
2022[19] 5,378,773 74.3 Increase 23.5
1,648 / 1,652
Increase 492
9,376 / 11,622
Increase 2,873 Steady 1st

Senate elections[edit]

Year Candidate Votes Seats Position
# % ± # ±
2006 Chea Sim 7,854 69.2
45 / 61
Increase 14 Steady 1st
2012 8,880 77.8 Increase 8.6
46 / 61
Increase 1 Steady 1st
2018 Say Chhum 11,202 95.9 Increase 18.1
58 / 62
Increase 12 Steady 1st
2024 Hun Sen 10,052 85.9 Decrease 10.0
55 / 62
Decrease 3 Steady 1st

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Khmer: គណបក្សប្រជាជនកម្ពុជា, UNGEGN: Kônâbâks Brâchéachôn Kâmpŭchéa, ALA-LC: Gaṇapaks Prajājan Kambujā; Khmer pronunciation: [keanapaʔ prɑciəcɔn kampuciə]
  2. ^ Khmer: គណបក្សប្រជាជនបដិវត្តន៍កម្ពុជា, UNGEGN: Kônâbâks Brâchéachôn Bâdĕvôttân Kâmpŭchéa, ALA-LC: Gaṇapaks Prajājan Paṭivattan ̊ Kambujā; Khmer pronunciation: [keanapaʔ prɑciəcɔn paɗeʋɔət kampuciə]


  1. ^ "DPMs Tea Banh and Men Sam An elected as VPs of ruling party". Khmer Times. 24 December 2021. Retrieved 24 December 2021.
  2. ^ Niem, Chheng (26 June 2019). "CPP set to mark anniversary, vows to maintain public trust". The Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  3. ^ "New $30M CPP Headquarters Inaugurated". Cambodianess. 29 June 2020. Retrieved 30 May 2024.
  4. ^ "Cambodian PM elected as ruling party's vice president". Xinhua. 10 December 2023. Retrieved 16 January 2024.
  5. ^ Aflaki, Inga N. (2016). Entrepreneurship in the Polis. Routledge. p. 196. ISBN 9781472423993.
  6. ^ Quackenbush, Casey (7 January 2019). "40 Years After the Fall of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia Still Grapples With Pol Pot's Brutal Legacy". Time. Retrieved 7 December 2019.
  7. ^ Prak, Chan Thul (2 February 2018). "Cambodian government criminalizes insult of monarchy". Reuters. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  8. ^ Hul, Reaksmey (27 October 2018). "Hun Sen, Former Opposition Leader in Row Over 'Loyalty to Royals'". Voice of America. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  9. ^ a b Vickery, Michael (1 January 1994). "The Cambodian People's Party: Where Has It Come From, Where Is It Going?". Southeast Asian Affairs. 21: 102. doi:10.1355/SEAA94G. ProQuest 1308074383.
  10. ^ Khorn, Savi (11 June 2019). "Ministry: Councillors to be appointed by next Monday". The Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  11. ^ Chandler, David P.; C., D. P. (1983). "Revising the Past in Democratic Kampuchea: When Was the Birthday of the Party?". Pacific Affairs. 56 (2): 288–300. doi:10.2307/2758655. JSTOR 2758655.
  12. ^ Bahree, Megha (24 September 2014). "In Cambodia, A Close Friendship With The PM Leads To Vast Wealth For One Power Couple". Forbes. Archived from the original on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
  13. ^ David Roberts (29 April 2016). Political Transition in Cambodia 1991–99: Power, Elitism and Democracy. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-136-85054-7. Archived from the original on 10 February 2023. Retrieved 12 September 2017. (section XI, "Recreating Elite Stability, July 1997 to July 1998")
  14. ^ "Cambodian electoral clean-sweep – DW – 08/15/2018". dw.com.
  15. ^ "Report on the Commune Council Elections – 3 February 2002" (PDF). comfrel.org. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL). March 2002. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  16. ^ "Final Assessment and Report on 2007 Commune Council Elections" (PDF). comfrel.org. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL). 1 April 2007. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Final Assessment and Report on 2012 Commune Council Elections" (PDF). comfrel.org. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL). October 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  18. ^ "Final Assessment and Report on 2017 Commune Council Elections" (PDF). comfrel.org. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL). October 2017. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  19. ^ "Provisional Results Give Cambodian Ruling Party Victory in Local Elections". The Diplomat. 7 June 2022. Retrieved 10 June 2022.


  • Guo, Sujian (2006). The Political Economy of Asian Transition from Communism. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 0754647358.

External links[edit]