Vietnam: National Assembly election is over, is it time for real action?

Vietnam’s National Assembly election in 2021 was an important completion step marking the transition between the two terms of the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and the State at the central and local levels.

The State of Vietnam has just officially announced the results of the 15th National Assembly election with 499 candidates declared elected in localities and provinces across the country.

On this occasion, on Friday, June 11, 2021, a number of Vietnamese political observers from home and abroad shared with BBC News Vietnamese their own feelings and personal perspectives.

Ms. Nguyen Nguyen Binh: (writer, former lieutenant colonel of the Vietnam People’s Army from Hanoi): “Regarding the election of the 15th National Assembly, my first impression is that the organization of this election is essentially nothing new compared with previous elections, the most obvious is the fact that the candidates nominated by the authorities (through “negotiation” of the Fatherland Front) still avoid to open up and interact widely with voters while the state’s media was constantly reminding people to “choose wisely” (many times reminding people to text on their phones too).

I waited forever but no one met so I was so angry. Many people publicly said that they would not vote because they did not know the candidates. Officials nominated by the party have been elected without people’s votes.

Mr. Le Van Sinh (history researcher, former lecturer of Vietnam National University, Hanoi): When I read the information published by the state-controlled media on the results of the 15th National Assembly election, I did not feel happy but only sad. The party appoints them to be elected by the people. So the people who have just been elected as National Assembly members in the area where I live, I have never met, talked to, heard them talk about their action plan if they were elected.

Before May 23, I received many messages from the National Electoral Council reminding me to choose smart people to vote for them. But how do I know who in the list (5 choose 3) who is more talented than anyone just through a few brief lines of hometown, occupation, education… and a portrait? In the past few decades, elections in our country have been done in the way that the party nominates candidates and people formally elect them. Nothing changed!

Mr. Vo Van Tao (journalist, a former official of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, from Nha Trang): Until today, I just heard of a case involving a positive case being mobilized as a service worker at the Northern polling station of Tu Liem district in Hanoi, but fortunately, the siege was relatively well controlled, so the consequences were not great. As for “success“, what is the state’s policy that the state media doesn’t report is successful?!

One detail I consider unsuccessful is the candidate’s personnel preparation. Saying “thorough” through several rounds of consultation, but in reality at least there is still the case that the Secretary of the Binh Duong Provincial Party Committee, although elected, was eliminated because of “problem” – according to the conclusion of the party’s Central Inspection Commission. But the most important thing is that when Vietnam has a truly democratic election, then the election will be a national festival. The last election, like so many before it, was all in a “party nominates and people formally elect” manner, very formal, a waste of budget funds and voters’ time.

Voters know nothing about the candidate, so they should vote just to avoid being troubled with the local authorities. Not excited, because who is the person introduced by the people? Delegates do not actually represent the people! The fact is that delegates do not need to know whether the people love or hate them and do not fear the power of the people through the vote.

Mr. Nguyen Huu Liem (scholar, jurist from San Jose, California, USA): Looking at the results, I am not surprised. When the Communist Party of Vietnam has deliberately monopolized leadership, and the National Assembly is only a secondary level of the Party’s powerful order, few people pay attention to the election-winning rate. The problem is the structure of public power and the order of political powers. If the National Assembly only makes laws as a template for Politburo’s will, then we must see it as a separate power model for totalitarian Communist countries.

What’s new or impressive?

BBC: Are you impressed with this result, are there any problems, and are there any new signals?

Ms. Nguyen Nguyen Binh: This time, it is only more expensive than the previous times to spend a lot of money on the so-called “propaganda and campaign.” For example, in addition to flags, lights, trumpets, and drums, there are also many times more than the number of flags, trumpets, and drums, to each household very fine printouts introducing the candidate’s full name, position, work history, address for permanent residence registration; However, they refused to give the property and phone number, and most importantly, the action plan so that people can find out, contact, check …

As for the results announced after the election: the number of 98.43% voters, I find it hard to believe. While the official propaganda and the statements of the four pillars have always emphasized that more and more people in the country are transforming themselves into “hostile forces“, most of them will not go to the polls; moreover, people don’t know if it’s a hostile force or not, but they openly said, “I don’t know or don’t vote,” some people didn’t even put their names on the list.

In my case, the local government even planned not to let me vote without saying why. I have to fight with them that I have never done anything illegal, never been stripped of my citizenship, why not give me a voter card? Then they were forced to give me a voter card and I went to vote; However, I can’t “intelligently choose” qualified delegates as called for, I just choose blindly according to feelings.

Mr. Le Van Sinh: Each social system has different election results. In this social system, the candidate who won 99% of the valid votes is normal, in another social system is abnormal, never appears. I remember the comment of a historian that the selection of social administrators reflects the historical progress of human societies. As mentioned above, the results of this election are still the same as the previous ones, nothing new.

Mr. Vo Van Tao: Since it’s not a real democratic election, the results won’t make much of an impression on voters. Which candidate is not a party arrangement? The people they say simply “all candidates are nominated by the party.”

Mr. Nguyen Huu Liem: This result does not give any new signal. As folklore is “Remaining the same” – and people see it as a political and power party where voters turn out to be the only variables that justify that party. That is, the will of the Party determines everything. The slogan is still, “Have absolute trust in the Party“!

Should there be independent supervision?

Observers say that it is difficult for the current state of Vietnam to accept independent monitoring of the elections it conducts, although such monitoring is an expected standard.

BBC: Should Vietnam have independent monitoring of elections? If citizens or observers want to find out the accuracy of election statistics and monitor the election process, what should they rely on? How?

Mr. Le Van Sinh: I believe that a truly free and democratic election must have independent supervision. That’s the best way to prevent election fraud. In democracies, their social systems have naturally created a mechanism for controlling power, which is also electoral control.

In the current context of Vietnamese society, it is difficult for the public and observers to monitor the election process and find out if the election results are honest.

Only when the ruling party really wants the people to choose their leader, then the story of monitoring and checking the authenticity of the election will no longer be a problem.

Mr. Vo Van Tao: If the independent supervision of the people can be organized, it is better than 1 step, although it is not very important. It is still important to be truly democratic when introducing candidates, to accept campaigning, the media must be free to reflect, the press must be untied. But I firmly believe one thing, the Communist Party of Vietnam will never accept that.

Mr. Nguyen Huu Liem: The Party will never accept independent supervision – because it is a step to cede authority. In fact, I believe the majority of the results are correct. Because voters have been put in a position to vote like that.

The new President of the National Assembly of Vietnam, Mr. Vuong Dinh Hue was announced to be elected with a valid vote rate of 99.89%.

BBC: What do you think about the voting rate with high-ranking officials (politburo, etc.) that have ratios above 98 or 99%, in which, besides the allocation of officials, this position in the local so that they have the election results as announced?

Ms. Nguyen Nguyen Binh: Regarding the results of winning many votes of many people who already have dignitaries, I do not dare to discuss; but also afraid of an old “orthodox” still kicking the ball and blowing the whistle, how can it be objective?

Mr. Le Van Sinh: As mentioned above, the election results of some Vietnamese leaders are very high: National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue (99.89%), Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh (98.74) %), Minister of Public Security To Lam (98.36%) and many others. This is not unusual. Past congressional elections have been like that. The current political system of Vietnam without such electoral results is novel.

Putting top officials of the Party, State, Government, and National Assembly to stand for election in localities is a long-standing tradition. Wherever they vote, they will also be elected, it’s just a high or low percentage of the vote.

Mr. Vo Van Tao: The phenomenon of high-ranking officials reaching 99% of the votes is the result of the communist state’s propaganda policy. Most people do not have the conditions to receive multidimensional information. The press was in the “golden circle” of the party, so there was a phenomenon like the press knew the essence of Dinh La Thang for a long time but did not dare to reveal it. Only when he was punished by the party, did the press publish a side story in the style of “catch dead chickens?

Mr. Nguyen Huu Liem: The paradox is that a member of the National Assembly who has nothing to do with the locality they represent is still elected. The political prestige of the leadership – in the current context – needs a justification for the number of votes. The higher the reputation, the greater the reputation. The fundamental problem – again – is the voting structure. The most basic is the question: “Who counts the votes?”

What are the priorities for the new term?

The new term is posing many expectations and challenges for the leadership of the party and communist state in Vietnam, according to observers.

BBC: Finally, the election results have now been announced, if the transition of power in the new term through the election is said to have been basically done, is there anything that the new leadership thinks? of Vietnam (the National Assembly, the People’s Councils, the Government…) need to prioritize their attention in their new term?

Ms. Nguyen Nguyen Binh: Political reform, institutional reform, economic management reform for the second time, loosening democracy, freedom, ending the suppression of critics, civil society, dissent, seriously implementing the commitments and conclusions, the constitution on basic human rights, civil rights, etc.. in my opinion, are things that need to be done in many things and if they can do those things, it is too good for the development of the country!

That is domestic, while foreign affairs, relations, in the face of military expansionism, security, influence through finance, ‘baiting, setting traps’ of the Chinese government, the Vietnamese leadership need to be very careful. But after all, foreign policy is an extension of domestic policy, so as long as the above dreams can be nested, there is no risk of communist China.

Mr. Le Van Sinh: Everyone knows that this National Assembly election is just to complete legal procedures. Previously, the leadership positions of the country and provinces had been arranged by the Politburo and the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam since the 13th Congress.

There will be no significant changes except that Binh Duong Provincial Party Committee Secretary Tran Van Nam (80.88% of valid votes) was not confirmed as a member of the 15th National Assembly.

I hope the country’s leaders realize that the second doi moi – political reform (first doi moi – economic reform in 1986) cannot and should not be delayed any longer. The future of the country and the Party depends on whether the Party leaders are determined to democratize the country’s politics.

Mr. Nguyen Huu Liem: There is a political chess game going on between the National Assembly and the party’s Politburo: The football field is still owned by the Party, but the National Assembly wants to encroach more and more. The new National Assembly, even if it is only a formality, is still a civil institution standing parallel to and equal to the Party – if the leaders and National Assembly know how to use the strategic position in the coming time. To see if Mr. Vuong Dinh Hue is a suitable politician. People are waiting!

Mr. Vo Van Tao: People always expect officials to wholeheartedly and wholeheartedly serve the people, to bring the country out of the lag and truly integrate with civilized democratic humanity. But for officials of the Communist Party of Vietnam, holding the exclusive position of power, giving them special privileges, is the ultimate goal, not giving up. Therefore, in the Government apparatus, there are still very few people from technocratic backgrounds, in the National Assembly, very few people have the legal knowledge, radical and democratic ideas. The hearts of the people and the will of the party follow me like two parallel lines that have not yet met.

The newly announced results of the 15th National Assembly election of Vietnam are an indication that the election has been extremely successful, according to the state-controlled media.

Vietnam’s state-controlled media on Friday said that 499 candidates have been elected to the new National Assembly of Vietnam, in which, according to the announcement of the National Election Council, National Assembly Chairwoman Vuong Dinh Hue stood for election in the constituency. No. 3 elections in Hai Phong City, achieving the highest percentage of valid votes with 99.89%.

15 members of the new Government were elected with a high percentage of votes, in which, the new Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh was elected in Can Tho, achieving 98.74% of valid votes.

According to the official Vietnamese press on June 11, 29 generals at central and local levels, including full-time delegates of the 14th term, were elected to the new National Assembly, including 20 military officers.

38 Provincial Party Committee Secretary, City Party Committee, and 3 provincial chairmen were elected to the 15th National Assembly, four of them successfully self-nominated, two more than the 14th term and are all party members, with three of them being delegates of the previous term.

Among the elected, there are 14 people who are not Communist Party members, there are 15 businessmen, half of which are from the private sector. In terms of education, the education level of the newly-elected legislators increased with 392 people having a university degree, reaching 78.55%, still according to Vietnamese media. (Translated)


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