Mr. Pham Minh Chinh, the only candidate to be nominated for the head of government, received more than 96% of the vote.
He replaced Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who was previously sworn to become the new state president.
This affirmation also marks the completion of the highest positions in Vietnam’s top leadership for the next five years.
However, in terms of formality, the vote was made by the 14th National Assembly, the tenure of which is about to end. Therefore, the re-election is expected to take place next May with the results already determined, and the re-oath would be conducted after the new parliamentary gathers for the first session.
During the inauguration ceremony, Mr. Chinh swore absolute loyalty to the state and the people.
He said that being elected to the position of prime minister is both an honor and a great responsibility for himself.
Mr. Chinh, born on December 10, 1958, hometown Thanh Hoa, joined the Communist Party of Vietnam in 1986.
From February 2016 up to now, he has been a Politburo member and holding the position of Head of the Central Organizing Commission of the ruling Communist Party.
Experienced in the intelligence
Before that, he had held various positions, from low to high in the intelligence agency of the Ministry of Public Security, including the position of Deputy Director of the General Department of Intelligence, specializing in economic, scientific, technology, and environmental affairs.
As an officer of the Ministry of Public Security, he spent some time working at the Vietnamese Embassy in Romania, from 1991 to 1994.
This is the period after the communist regimes in the host country and the Eastern European region collapsed, which the Vietnamese leaders have so far considered being an event that they must learn from experience to protect the regime.
During this time, he was promoted to the 2nd Secretary of the Embassy.
After that, he continued to work at the Ministry of Public Security, with the highest position he ever held in this ministry as deputy minister in charge of logistics – engineering, finance, science, technology, environment, from the end of 2010 to the end of 2011.
Leaders of Quang Ninh
Before taking the position of Head of the Central Organizing Commission, he was the Secretary of the Quang Ninh Provincial Party Committee, from 2011 to 2015.
During this time, he was known for his primary role in promoting the building of one of the three Special Economic Zones and the adoption of a related bill, which was later put on hold after a wave of anti-China protests nationwide in 2018.
He became the first prime minister of Vietnam that has never held the position of deputy prime minister, since the “reform” era until now.
In mid-January, Professor Carl Thayer, an observer of Vietnamese politics from Australia, told the BBC that he found Pham Minh Chinh “fit for the presidency instead of the prime minister.”
The reason, according to Professor Thayer, is because Mr. Chinh has a lot of experience in Party work and insecurity, rather than in economic management:
“Mr. Pham Minh Chinh ranks ninth in the Politburo, two ranks above Vuong Dinh Hue, who ranks eleventh.”
“Mr. Chinh has a long history in both the Party apparatus and in the security forces. He is the Secretary of the Party Central Committee, Head of the Central Organizing Commission, and former Secretary of the Quang Ninh Provincial Party Committee.”
“He used to hold many positions in the Ministry of Public Security in logistics, engineering, intelligence and as Head of the Party Central Commission for Political Protection. This experience would certainly suit him as president instead of the prime minister.”
However, in a BBC interview at the end of 1/2021, Assoc. Professor Ph.D. Vu Minh Khuong, lecturer at the Ly Quang Dieu School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore commented that Mr. Pham Minh Chinh has “local experience” through his time working in Quang Ninh.
“Quang Ninh province has a low level of competition, but after Mr. Chinh took over, the province has made great progress and is one of the top provinces,” said Khuong.
“Up to now, Quang Ninh is still one of the bright spots in reform due to the leadership choosing the right direction. It can be said that Mr. Chinh has a strategic thinking and effective problem-solving approach.”
Before Pham Minh Chinh was sworn in as prime minister, two other positions in the “Four Pillars” were confirmed and completed the inauguration process, including Mr. Vuong Dinh Hue who became Chairman of the National Assembly, and Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc becomes President.
The supposedly supreme position in the Vietnamese political system, the general secretary of the Communist Party, continues to be held by Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong, following the election results during the 13th Party Congress at the end of January 2021.