This month, five years ago I drove out this same road in Prey Veng province on my way to Mesang district. This particular stretch was a red mud
nightmare, deeply rutted and almost impassible in parts. Today I was surprised to find it paved and smooth, 40+ kilometers of it. Impressive...as was the massive CPP campaign parade that passed us on this road deep in the countryside. The new road must be of great benefit to the villages it connects together and to the main road. I was somewhat less surprised to see CPP campaign signs with pictures of Hun Sen juxtaposed with the
new road. So was the road built by the state or the party? Hard to tell. This is how the CPP provides for its rural constituency - roads and sewers and other services ordinarily provided by the state, but apparently raining down from the party like gifts dropped from heaven by a devata. And the countryside has traditionally given its votes back to the party in appreciation for such patronage. Democracy feudal-style. Still, I wondered if the fear generated by land grabbing, and the larger youth and the factory worker vote, and the continued lack of development in health, education and poverty reduction, and the seeming generalized desire for change might offset the new road this election. Hard to tell.