Single title

What Do Cambodians Think?

by Emily Southall, Channarak Nget, Chanbormey Long, Maurizio Paciello, Isabel Weininger

Insights and Attitudes towards Society and Politics in Cambodia

This survey aims to provide a greater understanding of social and political attitudes as well as opinions and perspectives in Cambodia. Its findings are clustered around the following topics: daily life, political participation, media consumption, civic engagement and international relations.

What are the biggest issues Cambodians face in their daily lives today? What types of media do Cambodians consume when it comes to current affairs? How likely are people to vote in the next general election? Which countries are viewed as good partners for Cambodia on the international stage and what do Cambodians think of the European Union (EU)?

These are the questions that Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) Cambodia together with Kantar have set out to answer in this survey. In October 2020, researchers interviewed 1015 respondents across Cambodia’s five main geographic regions: Phnom Penh, Plain, Mountain, Tonle Sap and Coastal region.

Cambodia has undergone significant economic change and development over the past two decades, making it one of the fastestgrowing economies in the world. Its rapid growth can largely be attributed to preferential trade agreements, strong foreign direct investment – especially from China – and an abundance of low-skilled labour. However, the global shock resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has had a detrimental effect on Cambodia’s economy, particularly on tourism, construction, and manufacturing exports, which sectors combined account for more than 70% of the country's growth. The country is projected to face negative growth for the first time in its history in 2020, the ‘sharpest decline in Cambodia’s recent history’, according to the World Bank (2020).

Cambodia also suffered intense flooding during the past October, causing loss of lives, damage to property and infrastructure, and the displacement of entire households. Nineteen of Cambodia’s twenty-five provinces were deluged by torrential rainfall and more Cambodians died in 2020 as a result of flooding than from COVID-19.

Research questions and objectives

​​​This paper aims to contribute to the understanding of Cambodian citizens’ political and societal attitudes, priorities and future expectations. It addresses the following questions:

  • What does life look like for Cambodians in 2020?
    • What do people value the most? What are their biggest challenges?
  • What is the level of civic engagement?
    • How do people consume information about current affairs? How likely are Cambodian citizens to vote in the next general election? Which factors influence their vote? In which ways are they participating in society?
  • What would strengthen Cambodia?
    • What types of social issues do people think the government should prioritise? Which countries are the best partners for Cambodia? How do citizens view the country’s relationship with the EU?


The findings of the report show that major issues that concerned Cambodians in October 2020 were, unsurprisingly, flooding, COVID-19 and the difficult economic situation. Moreover, many Cambodians, particularly younger ones, are turning to social media for news about current affairs. Cambodians also feel strongly they are likely to vote in the next general election but remain apathetic towards politics in general. Lastly, Cambodians point to China as the best foreign partner for their country across a range of issues, yet also ranked Japan, Thailand and the United States of America highly, while most have little knowledge about the EU.

We hope that this report would serve as a useful and reliable source of information for decision-makers, policy-makers, think-tankers, and researchers who wish to develop a good and responsive policy recommendation in the fields of media, civic engagement and international relations.

Enjoy reading the report!

Ordering Information


Isabel Weininger, Chanbormey Long, Maurizio Paciello, Emily Southall & Channarak Nget


KANTAR Cambodia & KAS Cambodia


Phnom Penh