How Communist Are Vietnam’s Communists?


Trong

Nguyen Phu Trong

Partyforumseasia: The re-election of 72-year-old Nguyễn Phú Trọng as Sectretary General of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) seems to signal that the old guard is still pulling the strings. But there were also rumors during the 12th Party Congress (20-28 January 2016) that he may step down before the next congress in five years time and make way for a younger leader. How much compromise behind the scenes will be necessary for such a handover is difficult to gauge. The CPV is still communist enough not to display internal power struggles too openly. But among the published political resolutions of the congress were:
“Strengthen the party, repulse ideological decay, prevent “self-evolution”, and “train and prepare quality cadres, especially at “strategic level”.
All that sounds very much like concerns about the ideological coherence of a single ruling party which must, like other remaining communist parties, uphold its justification to rule over an increasingly complex citizenship. But it betrays as well the dilemma of the leadership to keep its grip on power while talking more openly than ever before about failures and shortcomings it is being held responsible for by the electorate. With internet penetration close to 50% and the ubiquity of mobile phones more Vietnamese can see that the country’s economic performance is well below its real potential. Maintaining Communist domination is still possible, as in China, but getting more difficult with the success stories of some neighbors in ASEAN with less interference into the markets.

Here are some more interesting details about Vietnam’s ruling party, all charts by courtesy of Dr. Le Hong Hiep, at the moment visiting fellow at the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore:
Hiep 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NB: The party is more cautious than five years ago. The industrialization development goal has been changed from 2020 to “soon“….
The membership has increase by roughly one million to 4.5 m, meaning that the party has softened its elitist approach, and more citizens find it rewarding to be a member, probably because of some material or other privileges.

Hiep 5

NB: The newly elected Central Committee (CC) is younger ( average age 53 ) and many members have better educational credentials, but only 10% are female.
Reunification Day, Victory Day or Liberation Day is dating back to  April 30, 1975, nearly 41 years ago. But only 22 % of the members represent the South in the new CC. There is some lingering resentment about that in the CC and the population of the South.

What can be expected from the new team? The party maintains its strong grip on power and control. The reform process must and will continue but pace and effectiveness are uncertain. The constraints within the system will not unleash the full potential of Vietnam as fast as it could be done.

Vietnam’s Communist Party and the Media


Partyforumseasia: In authoritarian systems people are used to read between the lines, ignoring more or less the propaganda packaging of the news. The attached recent article from Vietnam News allows a glimpse into a way of informing the public which looks touchingly old fashioned in the age of internet and social media. The powerful secretary general of the all powerful single party has a nice discussion with a group of  undefined voters informing them about the good progress in the work of party and government.
But the list of shortcomings in this report is long and comprehensive. The voters are concerned about corruption, low quality and hazardous fake products, the high public debt, slow law enforcement, public service (or probably bureaucracy) reduction and the organization of the People’s Council. Rectifying all these is really a tall order for government and party, but at least the voters know that they are working on it. And “Ho Chi Minh’s moral example” will help.

Trung and voters                          Secretary General Nguyễn Phú Trọng in the middle
                                     Party leader meets Ha Noi voters.

Vietnam News 8.12.2014 Link here:
Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong met with voters in Ha Noi’s Ba Dinh, Hoan Kiem and Tay Ho districts on Saturday to inform them of the outcomes of the National Assembly’s eighth session and listen to their opinions. Most voters praised the outcomes of the session, especially the vote of confidence and responses cabinet members gave during question-and-answer sessions. Many voiced concerns about issues related to corruption and low-quality and fake commodities that seriously affected people’s health. Regarding foreign investment attraction, they emphasised the need to carefully consider socio-economic and defence interests, ensuring that investment did not affect national security. Voters also worried about high public debts and Government bond debts, slow enforcement of laws, and emerging problems in education and training. Acknowledging voters’ opinions, the Party chief said that during the NA’s eighth session, 30 laws were debated, 18 laws were passed and many important resolutions were approved. Deputies passed a resolution to conduct a vote of confidence on officials holding positions elected or approved by the NA and People’s Councils, he said. He also agreed with voters on the need to promote the role and responsibilities of deputies to ensure the quality and efficiency of the NA.
Regarding anti-corruption efforts, Trong said the Party was determined to fight corruption and wastefulness without compromise while maintaining political stability. In the coming time, the Party would continue speeding up implementation of the Party Central Committee’s resolution on party building as well as the Politburo’s resolution on studying and following President Ho Chi Minh’s moral example, he said. Regarding the East Sea issue, General Secretary Trong underscored that a series of measures had been rolled out to protect national independence and sovereignty while maintaining an environment of peace and stability for development and friendship with other countries, and not allowing external forces to cause disturbances. “We are determined to follow a foreign policy of peace, independence, self-reliance and friendship with all countries,” he said. He also mentioned a number of issues raised by voters, including public servant reduction, wage reform, the organisation of the People’s Council and ensuring law enforcement. Trong said he hoped to hear more from voters to help the Party and National Assembly improve their performance. (…)”

TrungNguyễn Phú Trọng (born 14 April 1944) is the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, elected at the party’s 11th National Congress on 19 January 2011.Trong heads the party’s Secretariat, as well as the Central Military Commission,the country’s two most powerful policy making bodies. (Wikipedia)

For more information see: Le, Kim: The Communist Party of Vietnam: A Party in B&N bookTransition. In: Wolfgang Sachsenröder (ed.), Party Politics in Southeast Asia, Singapore 2014, pp. 346-410 (available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other internet bookstores)