The transition to market economy has in a
couple, three decades made Vietnam an economic success
story. Living conditions have improved significantly for
the vast majority of residents and the country has in
many ways been opened to the outside world. But no
similar political thunderstorm has followed the economic
The Communist Party is still the only allowed party
and the persecution of dissent has increased rapidly in
the last decade. The party had a fairly good reputation
among the population for a long time through their
efforts in the various liberation wars (see Modern
history). Today, the reputation is sharply cut to
the brim due to corruption and abuse of power.
Country facts and history of Vietnam, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
Within the Communist Party there are various loosely
cohesive factions. Constant fighting issues between them
are mainly the pace of economic liberalization and the
nature of political change. A reform-friendly bank wants
to separate the party and government and give the
private sector a bigger role in the economy. A more
conservative group is concerned about the negative
consequences of the economic changes, such as corruption
and drug trafficking.
One thing, however, unites all leading politicians -
nobody wants to give up the Communist Party's special
status and introduce multi-party systems.
Regime criticism and protest statements
Key issues for the country's politicians are economic
growth and the fight against corruption and abuse of
power. They try to solve problems such as rising
inflation, capital flight, financial neglect and
disclosure of huge debts in state-owned companies.
During the 2010s, a number of high-ranking people were
sentenced to long prison terms or to death for financial
crime. The question is whether that strategy will lead
to fundamental changes, or whether more radical reforms
are needed to overcome corruption (see Democracy and
The authorities have also sharpened the criticism of
government critics. In recent years, more and more
people have been arrested and convicted of various forms
of breach of security or disruptive activities. Among
the vulnerable are journalists and bloggers, political
and religious activists, people working for land and
labor rights issues, and advocates for human and social
rights (see Democracy and Rights).
There are also protests among "ordinary people".
These often relate to land rights or deficiencies in the
legal system and regulations that make it difficult to
resolve legal disputes. In rural areas, poor farmers are
protesting against tax claims from the authorities while
basic services are failing.
China's actions in the South China Sea and the
growing role of neighboring countries in the region (see
Foreign Policy and Defense) have also led to claims and
damages against foreign-owned factories around Vietnam.
Success for the Conservatives
The Communist Party's Twelfth Congress in January
2016 was preceded by fierce power struggles between
reform friends and the Conservative Guard. The latter
faction went out of battle and reform-friendly Prime
Minister Nguyen Tan Dung lost the battle for the party's
general secretary post when the incumbent party leader,
Conservative Nguyen Phu Trong, was re-elected. Dung was
thus greatly weakened and was not elected to the
powerful Central Committee (see Political system). In
practice, this meant that his political career was over.
In April of that year, Police Chief Tran Dai Quang
was elected new President of the National Assembly. A
few days later, Dung was replaced at the Prime
Minister's post by Nguyen Xuan Phuc. In his new
government there were three deputy prime ministers and
18 union ministers.
In May 2016, elections were held for the Legislative
National Assembly. Of the 500 seats, 475 went to
politicians belonging to the Communist Party, while 21
seats went to formally independent candidates approved
by the Communist Party. Four seats were not appointed as
no candidate in the electoral district succeeded in
obtaining the 50 percent of the votes required to take
In September 2018, President Tran Dai Quang passed
away after a period of illness, and Vice President Dang
Thi Ngoc Thinh became acting head of state. In early
October, Communist Party Secretary-General Nguyen Phu
Trong was nominated as new president. He was formally
elected new head of state by the National Assembly on
October 23. As a result, he became the first person
since the 1960s to hold the post of president and party
Read more about the events in the Calendar.
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Vietnam: Globalized Party-State
Vietnam's foreign policy in a changing regional
FACTS - POLITICS
Cong Hoa Xa Hoi Chu Nghia Viet Nam / Socialist
Republic of Vietnam
republic, unitary state
Head of State
President Nguyen Phu Trong (2018–)
Head of government
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (2016–)
Most important parties with mandates in the
members of Communist Party 475, Independent 21 (2016)
Main parties with mandates in the second most
members of Communist Party 458, Independent 42 (2011)
officially 99% in the election to the National
Assembly in May 2016
elections to the National Assembly 2021
Activist is imprisoned for rioting
Democratic activist Tran Anh Kim is sentenced to five and a half years in
prison for incitement, because of writing on the internet.
Prison for democracy activists
Six democracy activists are sentenced to up to six years in prison for
"spreading propaganda" against the government, after hanging banners from a road
Human rights lawyer is arrested
Prominent human rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh is arrested, accused of posing a
threat to national security. He has criticized bauxite mining in the mountains.
The human rights organization Amnesty International calls Le Cong Dinh a
prisoner of conscience.
UN Convention approved
Vietnam ratifies the UN Convention against Corruption.
Two editors are dismissed
Editors Nguyen Cong Khe and Le Hoang, at the newspapers Thanh Nien and Truoi
Tre, are fired because of the newspapers' reporting on the corruption scandal in
Amnesty for 15,000 arrested
Journalist Nguyen Viet Chin (see October 2008) is one of
15,000 released in connection with the Vietnamese New Year, in one of the most
extensive amnesties to date.