Democratic Party (Cambodia)
The Cambodian Democratic Party (Krom Prachéathipatei) was a left-leaning, pro-independence political party formed in 1946 by Prince Sisowath Yuthevong, who had previously been a member of the French Section of the Workers' International.

Its slogan was "Peace, Independence, Discipline and Courage" and its electoral symbol an elephant's head and three lotus flowers.

In the colonial-era government

In the first elections to colonial Cambodia
Colonial Cambodia
In 1863, Cambodia under king Norodom became a protectorate of France. In October 1887, the French announced the formation of the Union Indochinoise , which at that time comprised Cambodia, already an autonomous French possession, and the three regions of Vietnam...

's Constituent Assembly, held in September 1946, the Democrats won 50 out of 67 seats, and for several years they remained the most popular party in Cambodia, despite Yuthevong's early death in 1947. The Democrats - in contrast to their rivals, the Liberal Party (Kanak Sereipheap) of Prince Norodom Norindeth
Norodom Norindeth
Prince Norodom Norindeth was a member of the royal family of Cambodia. Active as a politician and diplomat during the 1940s, 50s and 60s, he is notable mainly for founding the Cambodian Liberal Party , the first Cambodian political party.-Biography:Norindeth was a grandson of Norodom of Cambodia...

 and the Progressive Democrats led by Prince Norodom Montana - were in favour of immediate independence based on the model of French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 democracy; they also maintained that the Thai-sponsored Khmer Issarak
Khmer Issarak
The Khmer Issarak was an anti-French, Khmer nationalist political movement formed in 1945 with the backing of the government of Thailand. It sought to expel the French colonial authorities from Cambodia, and establish an independent Khmer state....

 resistance were patriots, thereby irritating the French.

The Party was to sweep the 1947 National Assembly elections, assisted by an enthusiastic team of activists (including a young Saloth Sar, later to become known as Pol Pot, and Ieng Sary
Ieng Sary
Ieng Sary was a powerful figure in the Khmer Rouge. He was the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Democratic Kampuchea from 1975 to 1979 and held several senior positions in the Khmer Rouge until his defection to the government in 1996....

). Other prominent figures associated with the Democrats in this period were centrist In Tam
In Tam
In Tam was a former Prime Minister of Cambodia. He served in that position from May 6, 1973 to December 9 1973, and had a long career in Cambodian politics.-Political career:...

 and leftist Hu Nim
Hu Nim
Hu Nim, alias "Phoas" was a Cambodian Communistintellectual and politician who held a number of ministerial posts.His long political career included spells with the Sangkum regime...

, another future Khmer Rouge
Khmer Rouge
The Khmer Rouge literally translated as Red Cambodians was the name given to the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, who were the ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, led by Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Son Sen and Khieu Samphan...


The defection of Yem Sambaur
Yem Sambaur
Yem Sambaur was a Cambodian politician, and prime minister from 1949-50.Yem Sambaur was once a commissioner of the police and a member of the Cambodian Democratic Party, from which he defected along with 11 other deputies in November, 1948...

 and several other deputies to the Liberals in 1948, and the subsequent assassination of Democrat leader Ieu Koeus
Ieu Koeus
Ieu Koeus served as Prime Minister of Cambodia for nine days in September 1949.Considered an intellectual, he was instrumental in the formation of the Cambodian Democratic Party in April 1946, created a self-declared government on September 20, 1949, was replaced by Yem Sambaur on September...

 in 1950 by a member of Norindeth's entourage, led to a period of fragmentation and division in the party. However, despite the temporary ascendancy of the Liberals, the Democrats continued to attract many members of the Khmer intellectual elite in the period leading up to and immediately following Cambodian independence in 1953, and retained particular support amongst civil servants and the urban educated classes. Son Ngoc Thanh
Son Ngoc Thanh
Son Ngoc Thanh was a Cambodian nationalist and republican policitian, with a long history as a rebel and a government minister.-Early life:...

, a former Prime Minister under the Japanese occupation, was also to join the Democrats between 1951 and 1952, when he left for the forests of northern Cambodia to start his own right-leaning independence movement.

Move leftwards and post-independence defeat

During 1954 the Party moved leftwards, under the influence of Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

-educated political radicals led by Keng Vannsak; Prince Norodom Phurissara
Norodom Phurissara
Prince Norodom Phurissara was a prominent leftist Cambodian politician of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, who held a number of ministerial posts...

 became its secretary-general. At this stage its stance emphasised the importance of the 1954 Geneva Conference in guaranteeing independence and the undesirability of accepting American aid as a result (a position similar to that of the rival socialist Pracheachon
The Krom Pracheachon , often referred to simply as Pracheachon, was a Cambodian political party that contested in parliamentary elections in 1955, 1958 and 1972....

party). The Democrats took part in the 1955 elections
Cambodian parliamentary election, 1955
The first parliamentary elections in Cambodia were held in 1955. The elections were held following the peace established at the 1954 Geneva Conference and the independence of the country. The election were postponed to September 1955...

; however, after King Norodom Sihanouk
Norodom Sihanouk
Norodom Sihanouk regular script was the King of Cambodia from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 until his semi-retirement and voluntary abdication on 7 October 2004 in favor of his son, the current King Norodom Sihamoni...

 abdicated and set up his own anti-communist political movement, the Sangkum
The Sangkum Reastr Niyum , commonly known simply as the Sangkum, was a political organisation set up in 1955 by Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia...

, in order to participate in the elections, some prominent Democrats (such as Penn Nouth
Penn Nouth
Samdech Penn Nouth was a Cambodian politician. He served in the French colonial administration, then took active part in Cambodian politics, was several times a Prime Minister of Cambodia as part of the Sangkum regime of Prince Norodom Sihanouk...

) left the party and joined Sihanouk. Keng Vannsak was fired at by government (i.e. Sangkum) agents at a rally on the eve of the poll, and jailed during the voting, while the party's office in Battambang
Battambang is the capital city of Battambang province in northwestern Cambodia.Battambang is the second-largest city in Cambodia with a population of over 250,000. Founded in the 11th century by the Khmer Empire, Battambang is well known for being the leading rice-producing province of the country...

 was ransacked. The Democrats eventually gained 12% of the vote, while the Sangkum won 82% and all seats.

In August 1957, the Democratic Party dissolved itself. According to notes left by Prince Sisowath Monireth
Sisowath Monireth
Prince Monireth Sisowath was Prime Minister of Cambodia, during the French Protectorate Period, from October 17, 1945 to December 15, 1946. One of the most prominent members of the Sisowath line of the royal family at the time, he had earlier been passed over for the throne by the French...

, this happened after the remaining leaders were called for a "friendly conference" with Sihanouk and were beaten up by Lon Nol
Lon Nol
Lon Nol was a Cambodian politician and general who served as Prime Minister of Cambodia twice, as well as serving repeatedly as Defense Minister...

's police on departure.

Re-establishment by In Tam

After Lon Nol deposed Sihanouk in the Cambodian coup of 1970
Cambodian coup of 1970
The Cambodian coup of 1970 refers to the removal of the Cambodian Head of State, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, after a vote in the National Assembly on 18 March 1970. Emergency powers were subsequently invoked by the Prime Minister Lon Nol, who became effective head of state...

, and the subsequent establishment of the Khmer Republic
Khmer Republic
The Khmer Republic or République Khmère, was the republican government of Cambodia that was formally declared on October 9, 1970. The Khmer Republic was disestablished in 1975 and was followed by the totalitarian communist state known as Democratic Kampuchea.-Background:Formally declared on October...

, the Democratic Party was reestablished by In Tam
In Tam
In Tam was a former Prime Minister of Cambodia. He served in that position from May 6, 1973 to December 9 1973, and had a long career in Cambodian politics.-Political career:...

, one of the coup leaders. However, the manipulation of the 1972 parliamentary elections by Nol and his brother Lon Non
Lon Non
Lon Non was a Cambodian politician and soldier who rose to his greatest prominence during the Khmer Republic .Non was the younger brother of Prime Minister Lon Nol...

 meant that the Democrats refused to participate. In Tam was later to retire from politics, the Party being led by Chau Sau; during this period it also made overtures to exiled politician Son Sann
Son Sann
Son Sann was a Cambodian politician and anti-communist resistance leader. Born in Phnom Penh, he held the office of Prime Minister in 1967-68. A devout Buddhist, he fathered seven children and was married....

. The Democrats, however, gained no further political power before the Khmer Republic itself collapsed in 1975, and the Khmer Rouge established Democratic Kampuchea
Democratic Kampuchea
The Khmer Rouge period refers to the rule of Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Son Sen, Khieu Samphan and the Khmer Rouge Communist party over Cambodia, which the Khmer Rouge renamed as Democratic Kampuchea....


In Tam, after a period in which he was once more associated with the royalists under Sihanouk, was to re-establish a Democratic Party subsequent to the 1991 peace settlement in Cambodia. The Party competed in the 1993 elections but failed to win any seats.
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