Political analyst Le Hong Hiep describes that the decisions on the “quadruple personnel- four highest-ranking” and the institutional changes made at the 15th Plenum of the Central Committee will have important implications for the party and Vietnam’s main political prospects in the coming years.
“Unofficial but reliable information from the plenum showed that General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong will continue to stay in the position of General Secretary and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc will be promoted to President.”
“Meanwhile, the prime minister position will be taken over by Pham Minh Chinh, currently the head of the party’s Central Commission for Organization, and Mr. Vuong Dinh Hue, the former deputy prime minister and currently the party secretary of Hanoi, will become the new chairman of the National Assembly,” Dr. Le Hong Hiep wrote in his article “Revealing the Four Pillars and increasing unpredictability in Vietnamese politics” on January 17, the same day the 15th Plenum closes.
Dr. Hiep said most observers of Vietnamese politics were “surprised” by the Central Committee’s approval for General Secretary Trong, now 77 years old, to stay despite his old age, weakness, and out of term limit.
Dr. Hiep referred to the Party’s Charter which stipulates that “General Secretary holds the position of General Secretary for no more than two consecutive terms” and said that there will be an amendment of the charter right at the 13th National Congress to “pave the way” for Mr. Trong to continue to stay.
Regarding the second “special case” involving Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, now 67 years old, has exceeded the 65-year-old limit for re-election to the Politburo and is believed to remain as president, “it is customary to have only one special case apply to the post of general secretary,” the author of the post said.
While the “arrangement” of the remaining two positions of the prime minister and chairman of the National Assembly was described as “less surprising,” Dr. Hiep said that Pham Minh Chinh was promoted to the post of prime minister. also, a “traditional break” because this position was always reserved for one of the deputy prime ministers of the previous term.
The absence of South Vietnamese politicians in the top four positions, according to the author, meant that the Party had also decided to “set aside” another important practice.
The political researcher at the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore describes the changes as “unprecedented.”
“The decision of the Party leaders to accept to break established norms to make these changes shows that they have made significant bargains with each other to make the solutions appear to be is not possible.
“Their ultimate goal is to introduce a new leadership structure acceptable to all factions. In the process, the institutionalization of the ‘successor politics of the Party may be temporarily ignored,” wrote Dr. Hiep.
The author ends the article by asking the question, “Will decisions made at the 15th Plenum be approved by 1,590 delegates attending the 13th Party Congress?”
“Although the possibility of some of these decisions being reversed at the congress is very low, we should not completely deny this possibility. After all, the Vietnamese politicians have proven they are masters of ‘the art of possible.’”
“So last-minute changes, no matter how low the probability, can happen again,” concluded Dr. Hiep.
Several “special cases” for re-elected
On January 17, in his closing remarks at the 15th Plenum, also the last plenum before the CPV holds its 13th National Congress, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong talked about voting through the personnel list including “special cases” enter key leadership positions of the Party and State with “very high voting concentration.”
In addition, Mr. Trong also said there will be a number of people who are “a special case of joining the official Central Committee for the first time.”
On December 30, 2020, the Government of Vietnam issued a ranked list of “state secrets” which included information related to the party’s personnel and internal issues. Accordingly, the personnel plans for the General Secretary, the President, the Prime Minister, and the Chairman of the National Assembly are top secret.