System of government

UNTAC soldiers from India patrolling the streets in Prey Veng province, Cambodia, on the second day of voting. Photo by United Nations Transitional Authority of Cambodia (UNTAC), taken on May 24 1993. Licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

UNTAC soldiers from India patrolling the streets in Prey Veng province, Cambodia, on the second day of voting. Photo by United Nations Transitional Authority of Cambodia (UNTAC), taken on May 24 1993. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Cambodia inherited legal and political systems and a state administration system from France. The kingdom became a French protectorate in 1863 and a colony in 1884. In 1953 Cambodia gained its independence from France. Today, the country adheres to a civil law system (law and judiciary) and an administration system that developed out of the French system.  

The Kingdom of Cambodia is an indivisible state.1 According to the Constitution, constitutional monarchy and liberal multi-party democracy principles define the country’s governmental system.2 While the King reigns but does not govern3, Khmer citizens’ fundamental rights and freedoms are recognized4 and political parties are encouraged to participate in elections.5

State powers are separated into the legislative, the executive and the judiciary in article 51 of the Constitution. However, there is not any separation of functions between members of the Council of Ministers and those of the National Assembly.6 In other words, members of the National Assembly can also be members of the Council of Ministers, the most powerful body of the executive.

All the state powers belong to Cambodian citizens. Nevertheless, they exercise these powers only through the Parliament, Council of Ministers and courts.7 They elect members of the National Assembly every five years8 and members of the Senate every six years9, while the Council of Ministers is required to have the National Assembly’s support by a vote of confidence.10 Upon a request made by the Supreme Council of Magistracy11, judges and prosecutors are nominated, suspended and dismissed from their status by the King.12

Every five years, Cambodian citizens may directly or indirectly elect their representatives at the local government level. Under the administration’s policy of decentralization or deconcentration, the local government has some degree of administrative autonomy from the national government, but the former remains reliant on the latter in terms of financial channels and resources (see Administration).  

The national government has oversight of both legal and institutional frameworks over the provincial and local governments.13 Any regulations that are issued by the government, government ministries and other national bodies have a higher ranking than those of a local administration. Also, at the sub-national level, the ministries and other national bodies have additional hierarchies in the form of provincial departments and branches in the capital city and in each province and district (see ministries and other national bodies).

Related to system of government

 Last updated: 28 September 2015        


  1. 1. Constitution, article 3
  2. 2. Constitution, article 1.
  3. 3. Constitution, article 7
  4. 4. Constitution, article 36
  5. 5. Constitution, article 51 new
  6. 6. Constitution, article 79.
  7. 7. Constitution, article 51 new.
  8. 8. Constitution, article 76 and article 78.
  9. 9. Constitution, article 100 new and article 102 new.
  10. 10. Constitution, article 119 new.
  11. 11. Law on Organization and Functioning of Supreme Council of Magistracy (2014).
  12. 12. Law on Status of Judges and Prosecutors (2014), article 43 and article 89.
  13. 13. Constitution, article 145 new (one) and article 146 new (one).
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