Forging Autocratic Legitimation: Charisma and Mythmaking in Hun Sen’s Cambodia

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    This essay discusses Hun Sen’s rise and longevity by examining the former Khmer Rouge battalion leader’s emergence from the fall of Democratic Kampuchea in 1979 and subsequent steady consolidation of political power in the years since he took over as Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea (1985–89) and the State of Cambodia (1989–93). The essay explores how he accomplished an autocratic coup de grâce by ousting political rivals and then attempted to forge autocratic legitimation via self-mythologization and appeals to royal imagery. Through these means and heavy-handed repression, Hun Sen today has come to hold virtually unchecked, unmediated political power over a country that is still searching for the truth in its fraught post-independence history
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalThe Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2023


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