Democracy: A comparison

[Sent to the Phnom Penh Post and Khmer Times on 29 July 2018. Not published.]

Several members of the US Congress have introduced a bill supposedly intended to bring about greater democracy in Cambodia. That raises the need for some comparisons.

In Cambodia, the party that receives the most votes heads the government.

In the United States, the current president received nearly 3 million fewer votes than his opponent. The president elected in 2000 also received fewer votes than his opponent.

In Cambodia, the party that receives the most votes has always had a majority in the National Assembly.

In the United States, it is possible for a majority in the House of Representatives to be won by a party that lost the popular vote. For example, in the 2012 election, the Republicans received a national vote total that was 1.4 million less than the Democrats received, but the Republicans won 234 seats compared to only 201for the Democrats.

In Cambodia, Senators are elected by commune councillors and the National Assembly, and therefore approximately in proportion to the population.

In the United States, Senators elected by less than one-sixth of the population are half of the Senate; the vote for senator of one voter in the least populous state equals the vote of 65 people in the most populous state.

In Cambodia, the government has actively and consistently encouraged all citizens to vote.

In the United States, a significant number of state legislatures have been imposing restrictions that limit the number of voters.

In Cambodia, elections are conducted with paper ballots, which are carefully preserved in case there is a need for a recount.

In the United States, most votes are cast on electronic machines that keep no verifiable record, which have malfunctioned in the past and which many experts fear can be hacked.

In Cambodia, the government and legislature operate on the principle that each country should manage its own affairs, without outside interference.

In the United States, the government and legislature act on the belief that they have the right to prescribe rules for other countries.

Doesn’t it make you think about who should be teaching whom about democracy?