The evolution of democracy in Vietnam after 30 years of the Renewal (Part II and End)

11/10/2016

In Vietnam, the difference has been noticeable, since democracy promotion has taken place in parallel at both macro and micro levels and from the central to the grassroots and vice versa, thus making a comprehensive and deep-reaching movement. The Communist Party of Vietnam is the initiator of policies and guidelines pertaining to democratization of socio-political life in Vietnam. With that key social responsibility, renewing the content and operational methods of the entire political system has been crucial with the focus on renewing the Party's leadership of the State, and stepping up democratization in the Party, administrative reforms in the State, and reforms in the judiciary sector. This plan has been made specific with the support of policies, ordinances and laws. Coupled with that, supervision and social feedback by political organizations like the National Assembly and the Fatherland Front has been accelerated to ensure the correctness and conformity of the process of democratization, thus gaining the people's backing for related political decisions.
Many plans and policies issued by the Party and State have been publicized for the purpose of gathering the people's comments via surveys, polls or the mass media. Such social participation and examination have nurtured the formation of a developmental trend from the grassroots level that has contributed greatly to democracy promotion. It can be seen that in many cases, movements made from the grassroots level and specific approaches taken by each locality to meet its needs have helped promote democratization in Vietnam. This has been noticeable, especially during the renewal process. Such movements have been called by various names, such as "xe rao" (breaking the line), "bung ra" (busting), or "khoan chui" (unofficial piecework assignment). These acts have reflected the strong proactive spirit in political and social fronts although they were outside regulations and mismatched with the legal framework at the time. They have been seen as responses of democracy and represented requirements of reality at the grassroots level.
It is noted that in dealing with these movements, the central government has shown respect and a democratic attitude. Though making several adjustments, the central government has allowed these movements to occur on a trial basis to help in drawing lessons for future improvements. Later, many active movements made at the grassroots level have been recognized and have contributed to shaping a national renewal plan for the country. In time, the "central to grassroots and vice versa" trends merged and incorporated into a driving force to boost the promotion of democracy.
Learning from the experiences of this work, Vietnam stipulated regulations on grassroots democracy in 1998 and developed it into an ordinance in 2007. The move has been acknowledged by international friends as creative and suitable for promoting democracy. The characteristics presented above have reflected particular features and differences and shaped Vietnam's own approaches to the promotion of democracy. Accepting and respecting differences is also a principle of modern democracy. Perhaps with its own unique characteristic features, Vietnam may make active contributions to the commonwealth of humankind's democracy.
In his article, PhD Nguyen An Ninh also notes that apart from developing democracy based on its own characteristics, Vietnam has proactively learnt and applied creatively many democratic values of humankind to further perfect its own democracy. The socialist regime in Vietnam has held high and adhered to the principle of democratos – power belonging to the people. This was the revolutionary goal that Ho Chi Minh defined as early as in 1925.
The President said, "We have sacrificed our lives for revolution – we should pursue it to the end. After the revolution is won, power should be handed over to the majority of people, don't leave it in the hands of the minority. So, more sacrifices need not to be made and the people can enjoy happiness". That principle has been interpreted into reality with the establishment of the State power system whose personnel are elected, and responsibilities and rights are set, by the people.
The rights and obligation of citizens (including the rights to election, supervision and dismissal of State agencies) have been prescribed clearly in the constitution and practiced in reality. The country's big decisions have been made by the National Assembly, which is the most powerful agency representing the people's will. Vietnam has also inherited a number of principles of managing democracy, including general elections, the principle of centralized democracy, the supreme role of constitution and laws in social life, and the implementation of representative democracy in combination with direct democracy.
In building a socialist law-governed State of the people, by the people and for the people, the unity of State power is based on the assignment and coordination in performing three rights: legislation, execution and justice, under the leadership of the Communist Party. This can be considered a combination of humankind values and a creative application to Vietnam's specific conditions. This is an inheritance of organizational experience, structure and functions of the three most important parts of the State, plus the principle that the highest power belongs to the people. It could be understood that unity is the foundation while the assignment and coordination are methods of achieving unified State power. The Party's leadership also aims to ensure smooth coordination and strict adherence to the Constitution and law. Building a socialist law-governed State of the people, by the people and for the people is a basic way of promoting the people's right to mastery and guaranteeing that the State's power belongs to the people. 
The State's power is defined by the Constitution and laws. The State manages society with the law and promotes the rights of all people and citizens. The State strengthens the legal system and deals with all violations of the law in a strict and fair manner in order to protect the rights to democracy and freedom and the legitimate interests of citizens, to prevent the abuse of power of State agencies and employees, to preclude the abuse of democracy and indiscipline, thus ensuring the efficiency of management operations. Vietnam's Constitution and laws also confirm citizens' right to join in managing the State and society, discussing common issues for the whole nation and localities and making recommendations to State agencies. 
Citizens of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam are guaranteed all fundamental rights to freedom, including the rights to equality before the law, free and fair elections, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, complaints and denouncements. Those rights to freedom are a foundation for the people to inspect the State's operations and are one of the important methods to implement democracy. Caring for people, protecting legitimate rights and interests of all people; observing and performing international conventions on human rights that Vietnam has already signed or joined in; renewing institutions, identifying the responsibility of administrations at all levels, agencies, officials and State employees to deal with complainants and denouncements lodged by citizens; implementing the regulations on democracy, expanding democracy at grassroots level and creating better conditions for the people to engage in managing society, discussing and deciding are important contents in the enforcement of the Constitution and laws and the development of democracy in Vietnam. 
The socialist democratic regime in Vietnam also acknowledges that society is unified in diversity, accepts and respects differences in terms of class, ethnicity, religion and gender of communities. The rights to equality and freedom of each community are prescribed and protected by the law based on democratic principles: minority complies with majority, but minority has the right to have and keep their differences, providing that these differences do not go counter to the nation's common interests; tolerance, cooperation and dialogue to deal with differences, disputes and conflicts. "Taking the goal of maintaining national independence and unification and for a rich people, a strong country, an equitable, democratic, civilized society the common ground to unite compatriots from ethnic groups, religions and all walks of life at home and overseas; abolishing all complexes, preconceptions and discriminations against the past and classes. Respecting different opinions that do not go counter to the nation's interests. Upholding the tradition of benevolence and tolerance and building up a spirit of openness and mutual trust for political stability and social consensus." 
By accepting and inheriting humankind's democratic values, the process of renewal and development of democracy in Vietnam has achieved a lot of successes, thereby making many important contributions to the world. For example, the implementation of the Regulations on Grassroots Democracy (since 2007 the Ordinance on Grassroots Democracy) was evaluated as, "a creation in realizing the principle of the people, by the people and for the people in political reality" and "a scientific political movement in line with modern democracy". With a proactive and positive participation in international and regional cooperation, the process of developing democracy in Vietnam proves that its nature incorporates democratic values of humankind and also through this process Vietnam contributes greatly to democracy in the modern world./.
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