Across Southeast Asia, election promises commonly centre on preferential access to state resources, rather than on policy platforms. In Cambodia, gift-giving practices have been a key strategy for the dominant Cambodian People’s Party to seek electoral support. The surge in support for opposition CNRP in the 2013 elections, campaigning on an anti-money politics agenda, raises questions about popular perceptions of political gift-giving.
Despite enormous exogenous influence since the early 1990s and considerable changes caused by the economic rebound, Cambodian society still appears largely traditional and has taken only limited steps towards modernization. Although the motivation of the current regime – maintaining its hegemony – does not offer incentives for the evolution of modern attitudes, perceptions and behavior, the impact of a change in government would not be sufficient for a general shift.