According to localcollegeexplorer, the ancient Khmer civilization (➔ # 10132;) had its heyday between the 10th and 13th centuries, when the empire of Angkor came to control much of Indochina. The decline and dynastic struggles of the following centuries led to a drastic downsizing and increasing subordination of the kingdom to the Siamese and Vietnamese hegemony, which lasted until the advent of the French protectorate (1863), followed by the insertion of Cambodia in Indochina French. The maintenance of an authority, albeit exclusively ceremonial, for the ruling dynasty helped to prevent the birth of a nationalist movement in the country and only the events connected with the Japanese occupation (1941-45) of Indochina laid the foundations for a gradual exit of Cambodia from the colonial regime.
Under the leadership of Norodom Sihanouk (king since 1941), Cambodia gained independence (1954) and total control over the country’s political life passed to the popular socialist community political movement, consisting of Sihanouk. The regime was inspired by a sort of ‘Buddhist socialism’, strongly linked to tradition. On the international level, Sihanouk pursued a policy of non-alignment, trying above all to keep the country out of the Vietnamese conflict. During the 1960s, relations with the USA deteriorated (until diplomatic relations were broken) and there was a growth in communist influence among the peasant masses which, starting from 1967-68, resulted in the development of a guerrilla movement. in the countryside (Khmer Rouge). Deposited by a right-wing coup, led by General Lon Nol (1970), Sihanouk took refuge in China, where he formed, together with the Khmer Rouge, a United National Front of the Cambodia (FUNC).
After five years of war waged with the support of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, in 1975 the Khmer Rouge seized power and their leader, Pol Pot, became prime minister. The disastrous situation inherited from the war, the drastic measures taken by the new government in an attempt to cope with it (in particular, the forced relocation of most of the urban population to the countryside) and the ferocious repression caused an enormous number of victims. At the same time, relations between the Vietnamese Communist movement and Pol Pot deteriorated, who feared a new Vietnamese hegemony. China and the USSR exerted their influence over the region by supporting Cambodia and Vietnam respectively, until the massive invasion of Cambodia by the troops of Hanoi led to the overthrow of the government of Pol Pot (1979) and the proclamation of the People’s Republic of Cambodia.
The Khmer Rouge reacted to the Vietnamese domination with the creation of a coalition government in exile of the Democratic Republic, with Sihanouk as president, giving rise to intense guerrilla activity. However, starting from 1986, the improvement of relations between China, the USSR and the USA favored a gradual process of detente and a progressive Vietnamese disengagement from Cambodia, culminating in 1990 with the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from Hanoi and with training (1991) of a Supreme National Council, formed by the representatives of the different factions and chaired by Sihanouk. The 1993 elections were won by measure by the National United Front for an independent, neutral, peaceful and cooperating Cambodia (FUNCINPEC), expression of the followers of Sihanouk, who again ascended the throne immediately after the approval of a new Constitution that transformed the Cambodia into a constitutional monarchy. In the 1990s and early in the following decade, a series of coalition governments formed by the two main forces followed one another: FUNCINPEC and PPC (Cambodian People’s Party). In 2003, the Cambodian government and UN representatives agreed to create a joint tribunal to put the leaders of the Pol Pot regime on trial. In 2004, Sihanouk left the throne to his son Norodom Sihamoni.
Following the 2003 elections, Hun Sen – who after the 1993 consultations had divided the executive power with Sihanouk and in1997 had taken control of the country by force, winning the subsequent elections of 1998 – he became prime minister at the head of a coalition government, a position confirmed after the success of his party, the PPC, in the 2008 elections, in which he won 90 seats out of 123 in the lower house of parliament. In the legislative elections held in July 2013, the PPC proclaimed itself the winner, claiming to have achieved an absolute majority by obtaining 68 seats against the 55 won by the main opposition political force, the National Rescue Party (PRNC), which rejected these results. and asked for investigations to ascertain any irregularities. In July 2014, the two parties reached an agreement based on a reform process. After the dissolution of the PRNC in November 2017, in the elections for the renewal of the Senate held in February 2018, the PPC predictably obtained a clear victory, winning 58 seats out of 62 in the country’s upper house; same result in the consultations held in July 2018, in which the PPC won all 125 seats in Parliament and Hun Sen was reconfirmed for a sixth term as premier.