Political situation Considerable governance shortcomings

Since 1993, Cambodia has been a constitutional monarchy with a democratic multi-party system. The country has been governed by the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) for decades, and Prime Minister Hun Sen from the CPP has been in office since 1985.

A tuk tuk driver in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

A tuk tuk driver in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

A tuk tuk driver in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

After the opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), received more than 40 per cent of the votes cast in the communal elections in June 2017, it was disbanded and its leaders were arrested or forced into exile. According to the official count, the governing CPP received 77 per cent of the votes cast in the parliamentary elections held in July 2018, winning all 125 seats in parliament.

The European Union described the election result as “not representative of the democratic will of the Cambodian electorate”. EU trade preferences in the areas of textiles, shoes, travel goods and sugar were revoked in 2020 in response to serious human rights violations and the oppression of political opposition. The EU’s response was comparatively strong, and relations between Cambodia and the EU deteriorated accordingly.

Some members of opposition parties who were previously banned from engaging in politics have now been rehabilitated and are once again politically active, but the opposition is split between many different newly founded parties. Free, fair elections according to western standards are not currently possible. The next parliamentary elections are planned for 2023.

Human rights

In Cambodia, freedom of opinion, freedom of association and freedom of assembly are all highly restricted. Arbitrary arrests are a regular occurrence. The justice system is not impartial and is highly politicised; it is used by the government to protect its power against members of the opposition and human rights defenders. The work of critical non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is impeded, and NGOs promoting environmental protection and land issues in particular have temporarily had their licences revoked.

Although the constitution accords them equality, women suffer discrimination, especially regarding access to justice, land and the labour market. Violence against women is widespread.

The Cambodian government is making efforts to improve children’s rights, gender equality, LGBTQI+ rights and religious freedom, and to align its policies with the needs of those living in poverty.


Corruption is widespread in Cambodia and is traditionally hardly questioned in Cambodian society. Whereas backhanders in everyday life are declining, large-scale corruption remains a problem. Legislation to combat corruption has only been in place since 2010. In the education and health sectors, in particular, bribes are a way to top up low salaries. Corruption also plays a major role when it comes to the awarding of land use rights. On the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (External link) published by the non-governmental organisation Transparency International, Cambodia ranks 150th out of the 180 countries analysed. Over the last few years, there has been a slight but steady rise in Cambodia’s ranking.

As at: 07/02/2023