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Organization of the political system’s apparatus: The central issue in building a fast and sustainable developmental regime in Vietnam

(LLCT) - If a developmental regime is considered to be the official and unofficial rules stipulating the operation of elements to achieve the purpose of developing the nation, the political regime clearly plays a central and decisive role in its function. A political regime has organic association with the apparatus of the political system, and both the former and the latter become the conditions and premises of each other. The political system’s apparatus is the subject which builds, improves, and operates the developmental regime, of which the political regime is first and foremost. In turn, the political regime stipulates and contributes to the development and improvement of the political system’s apparatus. On this assumption, this article is composed with a desire to explain the roles, positions, meanings, real situations, issues, and solutions to further streamline the political system’s apparatus - a significant factor for the political regime in particular, and for the regime which ensures the fast and sustainable development in the current context.

Keywords: Political system, apparatus organization, institution for development.

1. The roles and importance of the political system’s apparatus for the developmental regime

The political system of Vietnam consists of three “sub-systems”: the Communist Party, the Government, and the Fatherland Front (which is made up of the people’s unions and organizations). These three political “sub-systems” are closely associated with each other and form a unified political system which operates smoothly by obeying the principle: the Party’s leadership, the State’s management, and the people’s mastery.

The political system encompasses the entire social power system in society in practice, from political and state powers to other powers in society including the powers to build, improve, implement, and monitor the implementation of the developmental regime. Therefore, the effective improvement and implementation of the developmental regime can only take place when a good, rational, efficient, and effective political system’s apparatus is provided.

Renovation of the political system cannot be separated from personnel work. These are two fields which have organic associations, clear interdependence, and are based on each other. In his work “What to do,” Lenin theorized about the strength of Party organization when he stated: “Give us an organization of revolutionaries, and we will rock Russia”(1). Remember that when Lenin mentioned “organization”, it means an organization of “revolutionaries” - a “force” consisting of those who are really capable of participating in the great revolution. Lenin requested a force of competent cadres qualified in intelligence, competence, and quality to perform the heavy responsibilities of the organization. When people with revolutionary ideals and working competence gathered into a rational and close organization, they would improve revolution and “rock” Russian society.

In his work “Correcting Our Working Style,” Ho Chi Minh stressed: “Success or failure all depends on the competence of cadres. It is a certain truth”(2). According to him, “teaching and using cadres” are expressed in six points: 1. to know the cadres well, 2. to promote cadres properly, 3. to use cadres wisely, 4. to distribute cadres properly, 5. to help cadres properly, and 6. to keep cadres(3). All these tasks are the responsibility of the personnel work, the Party’s apparatus, and the whole political system. From this perspective, the decisive role of the political system’s apparatus can be seen in building, improving, and implementing the general social developmental regime.

2. Current issues of the Vietnamese political system’s apparatus

First of all, it must be asserted that the political system’s apparatus has witnessed many significant changes, achieving many fundamental and great results over its 30 years of implementing the Renovation guidelines of the Party. The apparatus has seen changes in the direction of meeting the requirements posed by the practice of building, developing, and protecting the nation. The significant results in the political system’s apparatus, and together with it, the renovation in regime are the fundamental and decisive conditions for great achievements having historic meaning in the renewal process. However, reality has proved that there remain many issues in the political system’s apparatus today.

Firstly, there have been a great number of improvements in the political system’s apparatus, but it remains cumbersome, multi-leveled, increasingly inflated, unstable, and unsuitable for the socio-economic conditions of Vietnam over these 30 years of implementing the renewal guidelines. The socialist-oriented market economy has superseded the planned and subsidized management mechanism. We have overcome the poverty-ridden period, becoming a developing country with lower middle income. The achievements of the Renovation process have improved all aspects of the people’s lives. The social structure has also had tremendous changes, most notably the development of the middle class. The socialist law-ruled state has come into existence, developed, and replaced the proletarian dictatorial state. The achievements of science, advanced techniques, technology (especially information technology), the strong international integration of our country, and a highly open economy have brought new conditions for socio-economic development, creating new lifestyle and consumption habits and strong influences on the economic, political, cultural, and social relationships.

According to the law, those above-mentioned conditions are the objective basis for, and posses the essential requirements of, renovating the organization and operating mechanism to streamline the apparatus and enhance the working productivity and operational effectiveness. However, in practice, the political system’s apparatus has been expanded in scale and complicated in structure. The number of personnel has increased steadily every year (until the Politburo promulgated Resolution No. 39 in April 2015). Many intermediary units work with unclear functions and missions. Too many institutions are established without logic, which cause supersession of functions and tasks, creating difficulties and declines in responsibility and efficiency of other agencies. The functions, tasks, and responsibilities between the different agencies of the Party, State, and Fatherland Front (between the administrative levels in each power system and between the manager’s levels in various agencies and organizations) are unclear, causing work encroachment and responsibility evasion. “The number of people receiving salaries or allowances from the State budget is tremendous,” stated a Resolution of the 6th Plenum of the Party Central Committee, while the working productivity and performance integrity remains low, causing higher and higher budget expenditures. Salary policies are changed slowly, which makes the actual salary of cadres and State employees no longer actually tied to their working effectiveness. In short, we are not clearly aware of the nature, structure, and operating mechanism of the political system of our country today. Even after the awareness issue is somewhat resolved, the construction and operation of the political system’s apparatus remains a puzzle, which limits efficiency and effectiveness.

Secondly, the mechanism “the Party’s leadership, the State’s management, and the people’s mastery” is not clearly conceived and improved in the process of national building and development. In the general lines and guidelines of the Party, the functions, tasks, and operating mechanism of each “sub-system,” and the whole political system, are identified quite clearly; however, in practice, the implementation of these views and guidelines takes place very slowly or fails to satisfy the general requirements and views of the people. This situation leads to the coincidence and overlapping of the functions, tasks, powers, organizations, and working relationships between a lot of agencies and divisions. The allocation of responsibilities, devolution, and assignments is still not synchronous and logical, with quibbling, missing, and improperly invested units being quite common. Basically, the apparatus organization in each “sub-system,” as well as in the entire political system, does not react quickly enough to stay caught up with the practical changes and requirements of life. The establishment of some new organizations, regulations, and operating institutions is often patchy, asynchronous, and unable to solve the tasks and newly posed issues effectively. It leads to the creation of a larger apparatus, more complicated operating mechanisms, and more overlapping functions between units.

Thirdly, power, control, and supervision are loosened; the rules, disciplines, and unclear laws and implementation lead to “serious bureaucracy, corruption, and wastefulness, with complicated manifestations which are not pushed back, causing social annoyance”(4).

Controlling power and integrity supervision are the basic issues of all state regimes in history and in modern time. Power control aims to ensure the effective operation of the State and prevent the abuse of power for one’s own interest or one’s group interest. Integrity supervision aims to prevent and discipline negative behaviors, corruption, and abuse of power, and it protects the purity and the prestige of the staff, civil servants, and officials. Controlling power and integrity supervision are two sides of one issue, and they are closely associated with each other. In principle, any power in society must be controlled, and all cadres, civil servants, and officials must be subjected to integrity supervision. The more power and resources an agency, organization, or individual holds, the more they must be supervised. Moral education is a very important element of society building; however, morality is easily distorted and it loses social meaning without power and integrity inspection, control, and supervision.

First and foremost, the awareness of and views on power control and integrity supervision are not sufficient, clear, and highly politically determined. The organization of the old apparatus and operating mechanism has been maintained for too long without synchronous renovation matching the socio-economic changes of the last period. This is also the cause of “unclear, asynchronous, and ineffective institutionalization of the mechanism for assigning, coordinating, and controlling State power at different levels”(5). In addition, the “Rules, discipline in State management, and implementation of mission are still weak”(6). These limitations obviously lead to problems in efficiency, effectiveness of leadership, State management, and social management. The lack of connection between the socio-economic reality and the apparatus, the operating mechanism of the political system, the inconsistency of the legal system, and the relaxation in law implementation generate the gaps and voids in power which create favorable conditions for corruption, embezzlement, wastefulness, and other negative phenomena. In these conditions, effective prevention of negative phenomenon, corruption, and wastefulness are certainly a nearly impossible task.

Fourthly, the efficiency and effectiveness of the operation of the political system is limited. The limitations of efficiency and effectiveness of the political system are shown in the following aspects:

- Slowly implementing the ideals and guidelines of the Party into policies and decisions of State management. Very few guidelines of the Party on socio-economic fields are fully reflected in specific policies and regulations. Some views and guidelines in the resolutions of the Party are not implemented practically or are implemented with unwanted results and effects.

- The combativeness and strength of some executive committees and Party organizations are still weak, with notable disunity in many places. Thus, the Party organizations cannot meet the requirements of setting an example, gathering people, and being able to promote the power, resources, and the positive elements of the people to lead the implementation of the political mission of the localities and units where they work.

- The deployment and organization of implementing all the policies of the Party and decisions and policies of the State on building and developing the country has not achieved the desired result, and is not matched with the potential of the country and the resources that have been invested. Some State-owned enterprises cause loss of capital and ineffective investment, therefore raising the public debt. Some strategies and plans to develop the socio-economic level of Vietnam are not accomplished or are implemented with low effectiveness.

- Socialist democracy, in practice, is sometimes overly formal. In many places, Party and State organizations are not close to the people and aren’t interested in regular people’s lives. Administrative reform is slow, and there are procedures and regulations that cause difficulties for people. These difficult, complicated, and new issues originate from reality, but they are not solved in a fair and reasonable ways, which causes annoyance in the people.

- The degradation of political and moral thought, lifestyle, self-evolution, and self-transformation takes place within many cadres and Party members.

- “Corruption and wastefulness are still serious, with the more and more sophisticated manifestations of it occurring in various fields, at various levels, and sectors”(7). Bribery for positions, power, interest, and cooperation between the state power agencies and enterprises has become more and more complicated and severe. There are illogical contents in the allocated State capital, and it is much governed by the “ask - give” mechanism, which leads to misused capital and wastefulness in the economy. Petty corruption is so widespread that people have taken for granted. Corruption also leads to the “loss” of cadres, even senior ones, and the internal solidarity of agencies and organizations is eroded, causing annoyance in society.

- The development of thought in the people becomes more and more complicated. The instruction and management over communications and the press cannot keep pace with the actual situation. The reaction to the current and sensitive issues of communication is not only passive but also slow. Orthodox information is mostly one-sided, illustrating resolutions and having little critical information, especially scientific critical information. The direct and unorthodox information on the Internet increasingly overwhelms orthodox sources, limiting the government’s input into public opinion.

The above issues derive from a lack of theoretical awareness and practice of building and operating the political system in our country today, which still faces a lot of shortcomings. This is also a cause of the decline of people’s trust in the Party, State, and regime. The trust of the people is the basis of the survival of our regime and Party. In the closing speech at the 6th Plenum of the Party Central Committee, Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong said: “It should be asserted that, if the people agree with what we do, our regime and Party will survive. Vice versa, if the people do not agree with what we do, losing trust means losing everything”(8).

3. Direction for solutions to the political system’s apparatus to meet the requirements for our national developmental regime

The renovation of the political system’s apparatus is the leading condition to ensure the enhancement of the Party’s leadership and State’s management to promote the people’s mastery. It is also the condition to build, improve, and implement the institutional system to maintain our socio-political stability, exploit and promote the potential and advantages of our country, make use of the resources in society, and boost the quick and sustainable development of Vietnam.

Firstly, renovate the theoretical awareness of socialism and the political system’s apparatus to meet today’s conditions.

In theoretical awareness, the most important point is to firmly base all thought on the methodology of Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought and to avoid biased and conservative views. A particularly important thing that creates the vitality of Marxism-Leninism is the dialectical method and the view of society in ceaseless movement and development. It was Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels who many times stressed the necessity of considering the revolutionary issues dialectically and in close association with detailed analysis of historical conditions. It is a method based on and looking straight at practice, and drawing good experiences and lessons from history. At the same time, the issues of theory, the Party’s guidelines, and the State’s policies, which have been implemented, must be practically tested and reevaluated to make quick adjustments, find ways to correct the wrongs, and figure out new solutions and methods to achieve goals.

From the general theoretical awareness, we can see lots of changes to the scientific and practical bases of the political system’s apparatus in our country. These are general changes at world and human scales because of modern technological development, great knowledge systems, and plentifully accumulated historical lessons, which have improved the development level of culture, society, and people, greatly changed the socio-political forms in the growth process of our country, adaptation to new conditions, and extremely plentiful and complicated manifestations of the international and regional relations, etc. The proposed issue is to study and clarify the content and characteristics of such changes to point out the objective requests and requirements of the political system’s apparatus so that it can adapt to reality, ensure the regime’s direction, and carry out the targets to develop the nation.

Secondly, continue studying and clarifying the theoretical awareness the Party’s leadership, leading method, and ruling method of the Party in today’s conditions.

The puzzles in operation and limitations in the practice of building the Party and political system over the past have partly been caused by the ambiguity in the theoretical awareness. The general principle of the relation “the Party’s leadership, the State’s management, and the people’s mastery” has been defined for a long time, but its specific content has not yet been identified and unified. Even if certain directions about the basic relationships are provided, the extent and scope are not clear or updated to match the changes of new situations. The 2011 Platform defines: “The Party leads with programming, strategy of policy, and directions about the large scale policies and guidelines, with the works of communication, persuasion, mobilization, organization, inspection, and supervision, and with the exemplary actions of Party members”(9). The strategy to develop socio-economic development in the 2011-2020 period seems to express the Party’s leadership method in a more specific way: “In the condition that our Party is the ruling Party and we have the socialist rule of law state of the people, by the people, for the people, the Party’s leadership must be mostly by the State and through the State”(10). The next issue is to clarify the unification between the two expressions, to identify the nature, scope, level, and responsibility of the Party’s leadership, with the instillation of a mechanism to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of that leadership.

The issues of controlling power and integrity of cadres to match the condition that the Communist Party is the only ruling party needs further study and clarification from awareness to practical mechanisms and solutions. The mechanisms and solutions to ensure that all powers must be closely controlled, and that all cadres in the political system must be supervised in terms of integrity without any forbidden zones in any agencies and organizations, need to be clarified. It is important to remember that moral education is extremely significant, but morality itself is not enough. A regime with close and strict power control and integrity supervision is indispensable to ensure the efficient and effective operation of the State apparatus. As of 1923, Lenin was very interested in power supervision. He requested: “The members of the Central Inspection Committee are responsible for attending each session of the Politburo with a certain number of people, and they must be a unified group treating no one with indulgence and keeping themselves from the power of the Secretary General or any members of the Central Committee which prevent them from questioning, checking documents, grasping the situation thoroughly, and coping with any affairs properly”(11).

Thirdly, study to build the overall model of the Vietnamese political system’s apparatus to meet the posed requirements of the new period. This is a very difficult issue, requiring meticulousness and scientific clarity. Generally, the overall model of the political system’s apparatus needs to handle well the relationship of the Party’s leadership, the State’s management, and the people’s mastery. The posed requirement is the rationalization and legalization of the roles, responsibilities, and operating mechanisms in each element and among elements to ensure the streamline and clarity of power, function, and responsibility without coincidence and quibbling among the level and branches of the government.

On the one hand, it is necessary to assert that the roles and positions of the political system’s apparatus in the recent past have been very important, and they are a leading factor to ensure the great achievements of the country in that timeframe. On the other hand, it is necessary to understand that the renovation of the political system’s apparatus is an objective and urgent requirement which cannot be delayed. However, renovating the overall model of the political system must be scientific and certain to inherit the existing positive elements, applying the wonderful experiences of the world and maintaining socio-political stability.

The issue posed in the overall model of the political system’s apparatus is the clear allocation of power and responsibility for each level, sector, and positions of leaders. Rules and regulations must be given out and strictly implemented to make sure the strictness, fairness, and equality of all citizens before the law, removing forbidden zones in agencies, and preventing emergence of privileges for some citizens at the expense of others. Particularly, it is necessary to apply scientific achievements, especially digital and technology ones, to objectively view civil transactions, especially those with risks of the negative consequences.

Fourthly, build and implement new strategy for personnel work. In the new personnel strategy, there must be conditions and solutions for training and cultivating so as to build new personnel soon, especially strategic personnel with qualified working capacity and morality, satisfying the practical requirements of today. To meet that requirement, it is essential to make basic renovations of awareness, the organizational system, content, training method, and staff cultivation.

First of all, it should not be forgotten that training personnel for the political system starts from general education. If the function of general education is to educate personality, individual, and citizen lifestyle skills, it is also the creation of “embryos” for later training government staff. Therefore, it is necessary to have the combination of and connection between the national education system and the specialized training and cultivation system of the Party and the State. The confusion of targets, content, and methods between general education and vocational and expert training at the university level, between educational socialization and educational marketization, run the risk of causing mistakes in the phase of creating “embryos” for staff training work. Particularly, current educational socialization turns into educational marketization in an extreme manner without direction, causing inequality and discriminatory educational environments for children – the future masters of our country. Certainly, it is not the expectation of our good and modern society. In other words, training renovation and personnel training must start with renovating the awareness, content, and method of the general educational system.

It is necessary to study and renovate the contents and methods for training and cultivating personnel, combining general training with on-the-spot training in specific titles and tasks of job, political theoretical training and working skills and methods, intensive fulltime training, and updating and supplementing knowledge and experience, local training, and practical rotation and training, etc.

Building personnel cannot achieve good results if the following things are not done well: the work of building, improving, and fully implementing the system of regulations and standards of evaluating and arranging; using the right personnel for given tasks; more clearly and transparently assigning responsibly for things; fair and rational treatment regulations; just and reasonable regulations on rewarding and disciplining; and strictness in personnel work.

In summary, building, improving, and implementing a quick and sustainable developmental regime of our country cannot be separated from the renovation of the political system’s apparatus. In the current condition, these are among two of the surviving matters with decisive roles to play in developing our country, and renovation and re-organization of the political system’s apparatus has a central role; it is the first condition we must meet to properly build and improve our institutions in order to meet the goal of quick and sustainable development for our country.



(1), V. I. Lenin: Complete Works, vol.6, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2005, p.162.

(2), (3) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, vol.5, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.280, 313, 314.

(4), (5), (6), (7) CPV: Document of the 12th Plenum of the Party Central Committee, Office of the Party Central Committee, Hanoi, 2016, p.172, 173, 174-175, 196.

(8) CPV: Document of the 6th Plenum of the Party Central Committee of the 11th Tenure, Office of the Party Central Committee, Hanoi, 2017.

(9), (10) CPV: Document of the 11th Plenum of the Party Central Committee, Hanoi, National Political Publishing House, 2011, p.88, 144.

(11) V. I. Lenin: Complete Works, vol.45, Progress Publisher, 1977, p.440.Prof.,

Dr. Ta Ngoc Tan

Vice Chairman, Central Theoretical Council

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