Southeast Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - Oppositional Social Mobilization: Youth, Social Media, and the CNRP

Thursday, March 22
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Tyler, Mezzanine Level

The strong gains for the political opposition in Cambodian national elections in 2013 has been interpreted as a vote for change, rather than a vote for opposition CNRP per se. Important instances of social mobilization since, such as mass participation in the funeral procession of political analyst Kem Ley, have not been based in a political party. Youth are a key demographic group for determining electoral outcomes in 2018. Regionally, youth have been seen to be less engaged in formal channels of political participation, such as joining political parties, but more likely to engage in informal political participation, such as social media, compared to their elders. This seems to hold true in Cambodia, where 60 percent of internet users are younger than 25 (2016), and a majority of young people active online use social media to discuss politics.


This paper analyses how this non-party based political energy channels into oppositional party politics ahead of the 2018 elections: arguably, a key determinant of CNRP electoral performance. It pays particular attention to youth mobilization, online versus offline political activity, as well as CNRP strategies to bring critical attitudes into its fold. Thereby, it aims to shed light on the nature of political discontent; the role of social media mobilization; as well as the mobilizational performance of the CNRP ahead of the 2018 elections.

Astrid Norén-Nilsson

Lund University, Skane Lan, Sweden

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