Home    Practice    Further renovating and perfecting Vietnam's present political system - some theoretical and practical issues
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 14:05
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Further renovating and perfecting Vietnam's present political system - some theoretical and practical issues

Vietnam's cause of national innovation has been carried out for more than one fourth of a century, and by the 12th Party Congress, It wil have been exactly 30 years of age. During that length of time, the innovation has taken place not only in economics but also in the political system in order to ensure unity and synchrony between economics and political renewal. Under the Party's leadership, Vietnam's people have gained many historic achivements. They include important achivements in the building of the socialist democracy and Rule of State, in Party building and rectification, as well as in the renewal and improvement of the operational quality of the political system.

Photo: Ngo Viet Thang

Vietnam Communist Party and people have achieved new theoretical conceptions of democracy and the political system, and drawn valuable initial lessons of experience on the renewal of the political system, the implementation of democracy, and the promotion of the people’s mastership. However, there still exist many limitations, weaknesses, and deficiencies in this important but extremely complicated field, compared with the swift changes of reality and in the face of the new requirements of sustainable development. The renewal of the political system has become more and more urgent. It requires us to go deeper into research, summing-up, and assessment related to the foundation for the study and application of new solutions, as well as for the adequate determination and effective implementation of breakthroughs for development in the fields of politics and political system renewal.

1. Theoretical conception of Vietnam’s  political system and its innovation. As it is known, prior to the renewal, our Party had not used the concepts of “socialist democracy” and “political system.” These concepts were first mentioned in the documents of the 6th Plenum of the 6th Party Central Committee in 1989 when the renewal, initiated and led by the Party, had just started. It is the first concretization of the Party’s renewed view of the “comprehensive democratization in all fields of social life” as recorded in the documents of the 6th Party Congress (December 1986).

At the 7th Party Congress, when our Party approved the Political Program on National Construction in the Transitional Period towards Socialism (1991 Political Program for short), it was also the first time the Party’s fundamental points of view of socialist democracy and political system were expressed relatively systematically in the Party’s Political Program. These were great guiding orientations concerning the view and principles, as well as contents and methods, for political renewal, specifically for our political system renewal, in the context of the transformation of the developmental model and economic management mechanism, from the planned, in-kind economy to the commodity economy and market economy, from the centralized, bureaucratic, subsidized, and egalitarian mechanism to the market mechanism, in compliance with the laws of value, market, competition, and differentiation.

From the reality of renewal, particularly in economic thoughts and economy, especially after the formation of the market mechanism and the strong development of the market economy, theoretical studies of democracy and political systems, as well as those of the democratization and renewal of our political system, have quickly attracted the attention of theoreticians. There have appeared many research works, suggestions, and recommendations that have made considerable contributions to the raising of public awareness and have initially provided scientific basis for the Party’s leadership and the Party Central Committee’s decisions and policies on political system renewal.

One of the important and noticeable issues in the renewal of our political system is the need for focused clarification of the political principles of renewal, and the political guarantees for the operation of the market economy in the context of door-opening and international integration. In summary, it is the socialist orientation that shall ensure the renewal unfolding in the right direction and prevent Vietnam’s economy from deviation and falling into backwardness for lagging behind. The principled renewal is determined by socio-political stability, which is considered as the premise and prerequisite for a comprehensive and effective renewal in all fields with appropriate steps. The Party emphasizes that in the relation between economic renewal and political system renewal; we should first and foremost focus on economic renewal and base ourselves on its initial results, which helps to improve people’s living standards, to carry the step-by-step, cautious, and principled renewal of our political system. During the renewal, we should be steadfast in the socialist-oriented path of development, consider Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh’s Thought’s as the ideological foundation of the Party, the guideline for the revolution, and the ideology of society, as well as maintain the Party’s leadership and power, especially in the context that there is only one roling Party in our country. Ours is a monistic and single-party political system; there cannot be any multi-party system or opposite party.

Another key issue in the contents of our political system renewal is the need for differentiating the relationship between the Party and the State as the two core components of the structure of the political system, and defining it clearly. This differentiation and definition should be based on the functions and missions, as well as the competence and responsibility, of the Party and the State in the context that the Party leads society and the State in its capacity as the party in power.

The clarification of this issue with scientific arguments and adequate realities serves as the foundation for the renewal of the contents and methods of the Party’s leadership, in association with that of the Party’s organization and cadre work, and for the intensification of the building of the socialist Rule of State of the people, by the people, and for the people. This is, perhaps, the “heart of the matter” in the renewal of our political system, which aims to address the long-standing overlapping and confusion in the operation of the Party and the State, regarding the organizational structure, content, and mode of operation, functions, as well as the unclear distinction between competence and responsibility, especially when it comes to the responsibility of each organization, which have led to the limited operational efficiency of each agency in particular and that of the entire political system in general.

Therefore, to attach special attention to democracy is actually to respect and safeguard the people and their mastership. There is an organic relation between democracy and the political system, between the development of democracy and the renewal of the political system, and between the renewal of the contents and modes of the Party’s leadership and the building of the socialist rule of state on the principle of dignifying laws and ensuring the people’s united power in that rule of state.The renewal of Vietnam’s political system is not for itself. Instead, its most profound and important aim is to build socialist democracy, to ensure the implementation of democracy, and to promote the right and role of the people as masters of the country. The strength of democracy and the practice of broad democracy, according Ho Chi Minh’s Thought’s enable us to prevent and check, or at least minimize bureaucracy, and corruption, as well as avoid maximally damages to the country and people’s interests.

It should also be emphasized that, to develop the socialist-oriented market economy is to create the economic necessity for the implementation and development of democracy. The building of the socialist Rule of State, as well as the strengthening of the Party’s leadership over the State, is the political guarantee of the democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people. The people’s participation in the building of the Party, the State, and their organizations is exactly their political participation, reflecting their democracy-practicing capacity for their real mastership. For each civilian and for the entire community in a democratic society, it is not only the manifestation of mastership but also the responsibility and obligation of the master, in the light of Ho Chi Minh’s thought’s.

Thus, the market economy and Rule of State are the respectively economic and political factors that promote democracy and our political system renewal.

Besides its two core components, the Party as the leader and the State as the manager, the political system also includes other socio-political organizations of the people. They are essential institutions that the people use to realize their mastership. Moreover, the people exercise their mastership not only through representative democracy but also through direct democracy, self-government, and self-determination, especially in self-governed social communities at grassroots level (such as hamlets, villages, and residential quarters).

It is the first time in its history of leadership, at the 5th Plenum of its 9th Central Committee; our Party issued a resolution on renovating and improving the quality of the political system at grassroots level, such as in communes, precincts, and towns, generally called the “commune level.” It is the right time to sum up the ten-year implementation of this greatly important resolution, assess correctly positive changes, and identify clearly and fully the weaknesses and problems emerging from the political system at grassroots level, especially in rural areas associated with agriculture and farmers. In these areas, there have emerged many pressing issues, situations, and conflicts that need to be solved.

The renewal of the Fatherland Front and mass organizations to meet the demands for consultancy, supervision, inspection, and feedback to promote the people and mass organizations’ role in building the Party and the State, in the firm construction and safeguard of the great block of national unity, and in the intensification of social consensus for development has become more and more necessary, urgent and ripe.

Our Party and State have directed the building and organized the implementation of a system of institutions regarding the renewal of our political system. This system includes the Party’s statutes and sanction system (Regulation on 19 things that Party members are not allowed to do), the State’s Law, the Regulations on the Implementation of Democracy at Grassroots Level (1998), the Ordinance on Democracy in Communes, Precincts, and Towns (2007), the Law on Corruption Prevention (2005), the Law on the Fatherland Front, and the law on some other mass organizations. At present, we are focusing on the amendments to the Constitution and the Land Law. This also aims to intensify the power of the institutions in order to ensure democracy and promote the people’s mastership.

Particularly, the 4th Session of the 13th National Assembly issued a resolution on implementing the vote of confidence and the collection of confidence votes for deputies elected or appointed by the National Assembly or the people’s councils to the key posts in the government bodies. Recently, the senior leading agencies of the Party have carried out criticism and self-criticism in the spirit of the 4th Plenum Resolution the 11th Party Central Committee. They strictly criticized themselves and took responsibility for their shortcomings, mistakes, and weaknesses in their leadership and direction. At the 6th Plenum, interpellation was started as a practice in the operation of the Party’s senior leadership.

The information on these important issues has been publicized within the Party and in society. At the same time, the Party Central Committee has made new decisions on renovating the structural model of the direction for anti-corruption. These are good signs that will push up the renewal of our politics and political system.

Besides these expeditious activities, the renewal of the policies and mechanisms relating to the investment of resources in socio-economic development and the arrangement of human resources at all levels in the political system has also made an important contributions to the renewal and improvement of the operational quality of the political system. However, it is necessary to sum up and assess the results, impacts, and suitability of these renewed policies and mechanisms to define whether or not they need to be further modified, amended, or supplemented in the present context.

The above-mentioned issues are some related to the theoretical awareness of the political system and its renewal, which have emerged from the reality of renewal in our country. Among these issues, there still exist some points that have not been clarified or reached consensus in common conception. Consequently, confusion and inconsistence are still found in our practical political activities, obtructing the efficiency of our political system renewal.

To overcome these shortcomings, it is necessary to develop a scientific concept and definition of the political system as the basis for the education, communication, mobilization, and designing of policies and solutions to the renewal of our political system. To answer thoroughly the question “What is a political system?”, it is necessary to clarify the attributes and nature of the political system, instead of just describing and listing its organizations without defining clearly the criteria for identifying organizations which belong to the political system and those which do not. So far, there have existed different perceptions and understandings of the approach to identification of entities making up our political system.

It is necessary to identify the organizational structure of our political system.

There are generally two tendencies: either narrowing or enlarging excessively the components of the political system. Normally, the latter overwhelms the former, for any organization wants to be present in the political system. As a result, the connotation of politics and the concept of political system have become “dilute”; the characteristics of politics have been “mixed” with other fields.

To solve this issue scientifically, it is necessary to clearly distinguish a political organization from a socio-political organization and a socio-occupational one. Only by having clearly differentiated these organizations can we identify precisely institutional organizations which make up our political system.

Similarly, it is necessary to distinguish politics from administration, politics from the political system and society and the socio-ex-political system (belonging to the civil social life). This issue is very complicated, and needs further studying and summing up.

It is closely related to the renewal of the political system, the building of socialist democracy and the law-ruled state, as well as the promotion of the power of democracy and the people’s participation in the struggle against bureaucracy and corruption.

2. Issues emerging from the reality of Vietnam’s  present political system renewal

Based on the theoretical awareness and the initial practical results our Party and people have achieved in the political system renewal, especially through the theoretical-practical summing-ups of the twenty years and twenty-five years of renewal, including that of the twenty years of implementing the 1991 Political Program as defined in the documents of the 11th Party Congress, and that of the twenty years of implementing the 1992 Constitution, the assessment of the reality of our present political system has exposed some issues as follows:

First, assessing of the results of the campaign for democratization, especially in the two important fields: economics and politics.

What are our achievements and limitations in the building of socialist democracy during the 25 year’s renewal? Why do formalistic democracy and violations of the people’s democratic rights and mastership still exist? Some serious, long-lasting violations have caused contradictions, conflicts, and disorders in many places, especially in rural areas. Who and which levels of leadership and management should be held accountable for such negative practices as centralized bureaucracy associated with anarchical liberalism, and violations and disregard of laws and discipline that may cause social disorder and instability but are slow to be overcome, rectified, and unstrictly dealt with strictly?

There are many factors that lead to bureaucracy and corruption, especially corruption in our country. Is it because democracy is being developed slowly that corruption has not been solved, and has become an acute problem? Is it because the political system renewal is still being carried out slowly and inefficiently? The rule of State plays an important role in the struggle against corruption. Experience shows that corruption exists where there is lack of openness and transparency of an accountability institution. Over the recent years, Vietnam’s  economic activities and management have undergone complicated developments and exposed many serious weaknesses, especially in state-owned economic groups. They include the loop holes and huge losses of State investments, the bankruptcy of a wide range of businesses, the increasing of public debts, bad debts, and inflation, the large stocks of unsold products, and the declining growth rate. The public has voiced discontent with unrighteous and illicit manifestations of group interests that cause damages to the shared interests of the whole society.

Corruption in the economy has become more and more serious, complicated, and sophisticated. It is accompanied by corruption in politics with such manifestations as using authority for the pursuit of profit, as well as dishonestly seeking titles, positions, power, educational degrees, and even medals. Corruption in politics has been and continues to be an alarming fact as mentioned at the 11th Party Congress.

The “ask-give” mechanism is invisible and unwritten, but it has caused serious losses and formed a popular and hard-to-correct practice.

In cadre work, there exists a negative and unsound unwritten rule on positioning that has been criticized by the Party General Secretary. Cadres are arranged according to priority: “Money comes first, descent second, relations third, and intelligence last.” Obviously, the “ask - give” mechanism, “group interests,” and “tenure-long thoughts” have contributed to the growth of corruption, the degradation of political ideology, morality, and lifestyle among the Party ranks, the decreased economic growth momentum, as well as to the deformation of social relations, norms, and values. These are heavy hindrances to development, to the political system, and to the renewal of our political system.

It is corruption that is the biggest hindrance to the work of masses mobilization and public persuasion, since people will lose faith when they see that corruption is serious and quite popular in the system of bodies of public authority, even in the Party agencies and mass organizations.

In order to step up democratization, build democracy, and renovate the political system, it is necessary to pay special attention to checking bureaucracy and corruption with strong and synchronic solutions.

Second, renewing of the content and model of the Party’s leadership in the context of strong development of the market economy and rule of State, door-opening, and international integration.

For over the 25 years of renewal, our Party has issued quite a lot of resolutions on Party building and rectification, typically the Resolution of the 6th Plenum of the 8th Party Central Committee and the Resolution of the 4th Plenum of the 11th Party Central Committee, whose key contents are how to overcome the decline within the Party to make it clean and strong, and improve its leadership and fighting capacities.

There are a lot of problems in Party building, renewal, and rectification. The most noticeable of them are the following: Making theoretical breakthroughs and attach importance to Party building in terms of morality and lifestyle; in a broader term, it is necessary to build up, educate about, and practice culture within the Party and in its life, as well as to build up and practise political culture within the Party, the State, and the organizations of our political system.

- It is necessary to distinguish the Party from the State and mass organizations in terms of functions, tasks, organizational models, and modes of leadership. It is necessary to differentiate the authority and responsibilities of the Party from those of the State, and to clarify the differences in the Party’s leadership over the State, and its leadership over the Fatherland Front and other mass organizations.

- It is necessary to define the role and qualities of Party members, as well as the role and responsibilities of Party organizations, Party committees at different levels, and their heads. It is necessary to clarify the models and relations between Party organizations and government agencies and mass organizations, to renovate and streamline the state apparatus, as well as improve the quality of cadres and Party members in each organization and in the entire system.

- It is necessary to implement the principle of democratic centralism and practice democracy within the Party and the State. As for the Fatherland Front, the application of democratic centralism is impossible because of its own characteristics. Instead, it is necessary to apply democratic consultation to the Fatherland Front, with the combination of democratic centralism and democratic consultation in its organization and operation.

The relation between the Party and the people is an extremely important issue in the context of the ruling Party. It is also the most noticeable factor in the work of mass mobilisation, as well as in the practice of democracy and social unity and consensus. However, it is currently an alarming issue given the people’s decreasing faith in the constitution caused by the not small number of degenerate and corrupt Party members and cadres.

- It is necessary to deal with the Party’s work of cadre organization and planning and its cadre policy, especially the planning of cadres at the strategic level and key positions in the Party and State leaderships.

Third, renewing the organization and operation of the Front and mass organizations, especially the Vietnam Fatherland Front. It is necessary to overcome the tendency of administration and formalization so that the Front and mass organizations can really promote their roles as the social consultant, supervisor, and critic for the Party and State’s guidelines, policies, and laws; implement effectively the work of mass mobilization; create their vitality and attraction for the masses and their members; promote the practice of democracy; and fight against bureaucracy and corruption. Together with preparing a project for the further renewal and improvement of the operational quality of the political system, over the past time, the Central Committee for Mass Mobilization has been actively working on the project, project statement, and draft regulations to strengthen the role of the Front and mass organizations in such activities as supervision, criticism, and consultancy, as well as regulations that would enable the Front, mass organizations, and people to participate in contributing opinions to the Party’s guidelines, policies, and resolutions and the State’s Law. We have good grounds to hope that once the mentioned regulations are approved, issued, and put into practice by the Party Central Committee, they will create new steps towards the promotion of the people’s mastership. This is the nature and target of the renewal of our political system.

Fourth, the issue related to cadres and cadre policy, and to the necessity to promote the people’s socio-political activeness, initiatives, and creativity, as well as discover and well treat talents, in order to develop the economy and culture and meet the requirements of sustainable development. The cadre work is the radical work of the Party. It is of strategic importance and determines the vitality and strength of an organization, as well as the success or failure of the revolutionary movement. The cadre policy is one of the most pivotal links in the implementation of the Party’s cadre-related thought and strategy. It is a wide range of policies towards cadres and policies towards human resources, from education to cultivation and training, assessment, utilization, appointment, and rotation of cadres so that they can be tested, forged, and become mature. It also includes fair and reasonable treatment of talents, which is directly related to the salary policy and the reform of the salary regime.

Thus, the cadre work is closely associated with the organization work, ensured by the cadre policy, and promoted by the salary policy.

Another issue of the political system renewal is how to formulate and realize a set of criteria applied to cadres of the Party, Government, Front, and mass organizations. Cadres of the Party, Front, and mass organizations are different from civil servants. However, so far, they have been considered as the latter although their jobs and operations are actually related to political activities and social work. It is necessary to figure out a form of remuneration and preferential treatment for them, which is different from that of civil servants to avoid the tendency of turning them into State-styled functionaries, administrators, and bureaucrats. The settlement of this issue will be the key for the Front to have a proactive and independent critical voice for the Party and the State.

Fifth, promoting the concerted strength of the entire political system, the consolidation of the great block of national unity, and the intensification of social consensus. Democracy, unity, and consensus are the laws for the development of a democratic society in our country and the guarantee for active stability as real stability. Therefore, it is necessary to attach importance to democracy and unity within the Party, and promote the strength of unity and the great block of national unity on the basis of grasping thoroughly and implementing the policy on uniting all the ethnic groups and religions in our country, including the overseas Vietnamese community, in the great family of Vietnamese nationalities. True democracy is for true unity as well as true and sustainable consensus.

Above are the five marked issues in the renewal of our political system, relating to our achievements and limitations, viewpoints, principles, and solutions to the further renewal and perfection of our political system in the new situation and in the face of new requirements.

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