Cambodia’s Transition to Hegemonic Authoritarianism

Issue Date January 2019
Volume 30
Issue 1
Page Numbers 158-171
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Despite a long history of intense repression and flawed elections in Cambodia, recent years have witnessed events unprecedented by the standards of Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) leader Hun Sen’s dictatorship. A political crackdown targeted the last remaining vestiges of public opposition to the CPP—namely, civil society groups, independent media organizations, and political opponents. Sham parliamentary elections in July 2018 capitalized on this repression by providing a mechanism for the CPP to keep its iron grip on power while feigning conformity to the principles of party competition, citizen participation, and impartial validation. Taken together, these developments marked a transition from the competitive authoritarianism that had long characterized Cambodia’s political system to full-blown “hegemonic” authoritarian rule.