This article draws from multiple sources of data including longitudinal field research such as interviews with diverse stakeholders—party apparatchik, leaders of civil society organizations, and representatives of international institutions operating in Cambodia. Analyzing these data using the literature on the durability of single-party authoritarianism, we argue that authoritarian durability in Cambodia is associated with the ruling party’s strength, which has its roots in the party’s evolution from a liberation movement and counterinsurgency struggle from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. This movement and struggle fostered a shared sense of hardship, and a common identity among the party’s leadership, which in turn generated enduring partisan identities, rigid interparty boundaries, and strong party organizational structure. Additionally, we postulate that distribution of patronage largesse made possible through rents associated with extraction of natural resources, foreign aid, and foreign investment further strengthened the ruling party, allowing it to project infrastructural power in surveilling and mobilizing voters and in exercising coercion against its challengers.

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