The evolution of democracy in Vietnam after 30 years of the Renewal (Part I)


Democracy possesses many commonly held values of humankind, however the development process of democracy differs from country to country, exhibiting particular characteristics shaped by specific historical circumstances, according to a Vietnamese social scientist. Associate Professor-PhD of Social Science Nguyen An Ninh writes that in Vietnam, democracy boasts typical characteristics that made the country's regime different from others.
Firstly, the current socialist democratic regime in Vietnam is the first ever democratic regime in the country's political history. The Declaration of Independence for the Democratic Republic of Vietnam read by President Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi on September 2, 1945 marked the very start of Vietnam 's first democratic regime.
Previously, Vietnam 's socio-political and economic life was ruled over by feudal, semi-feudal and colonial systems for many centuries. The prominent feature of these systems was that the people had no right to participate in the country's political life, let alone impose their will and aspirations upon the governing administrations' political structures. Therefore, there were few or even no mechanisms established for implementing democracy. A person's fate as well as his/her rights and obligations depended on the society, the community or the crowd. At that time, the development of socio-political life was often dependent on the virtue, ethics and capability of one single man – the king – who had been placed on the pinnacle of power in the absence of a people's election. And, this situation went on for thousands of years until September 2, 1945.
Vietnam's first democratic regime was born during the national liberation revolution and it was the fruit of the entire people's struggle for liberation under the leadership of a communist party. This first democratic regime brought to the Vietnamese people the most fundamental human rights, including the right to live. We should remember that even the right to live, which is the first and most fundamental right of humans, had been threatened and stolen in a famine triggered by Japanese fascists in 1945 which claimed the lives of nearly 2 million people, or one tenth of Vietnam 's population at the time.
The new regime also gave the people the right to be a citizen of an independent and free country, the right to participate in the country's political life, and other rights and interests. These rights were stringently enforced from the very first day of the new regime. The first general election was organized successfully within several months of the day on which the Declaration of Independence was proudly announced.
Secondly, Vietnam's first democratic regime had its roots in a struggle to win and defend national independence for which generations of Vietnamese people had contributed not only their brainpower but also sacrificed their blood. This regime was not the result of a parliamentary democratic process as happened in many countries in the world. The reality of Vietnam's political history in the 20th century showed that only when a country is free and independent, can its people enjoy democracy and society become republican.
Throughout the 20th century, the Vietnamese people undertook to defend their national independence, along with building and developing democracy. During the course of time, generations of Vietnamese people understood that the most important thing was national independence and freedom. President Ho Chi Minh used to say that "nothing is more precious than independence and freedom". That is the reason why Vietnam has built its concepts on citizens' rights and obligations, as well as institutional tools and mechanisms to implement democracy around this philosophy.
In many cases, the country viewed national independence and freedom the same as democracy and equality in the meaning of the right to exist and develop like other nations. In that sense, Vietnam could gain freedom and democracy only when it was in peace, unified and independent and its people freed from slavery. Therefore, Vietnam 's adoption of a socialist democratic regime aimed to exercise the right to exist and develop like other nations around the world.
Thirdly, the socialist democratic regime was the evolvement of democracy at a higher degree. Looking back to the historical background where Vietnam began the course of building and developing democracy, it can be seen that we must work harder and harder in order to thoroughly capture the nature of socialist democracy.
It is inevitable when there are things that are incomplete or fail to match the ideal standards in the first democratic regime in a country where no democratic regime existed before. Therefore, it is easy to identify and explain the incomplete features of the current democracy in Vietnam. Vietnam has been undertaking the building of its socialist democratic regime in the context of a tiny, underdeveloped economy after enduring wars to defend national independence and reunification for dozens of years and dealing with several socio-economic structural upheavals.
In such circumstances it is clear that Vietnam has not yet developed a perfect democracy, so it is making efforts to narrow the gaps between reality and the goals it has set. However, it is noticeable that though still under construction, the socialist democratic regime in Vietnam has brought into full play its pre-eminent characteristics. The regime has stood side by side with the nation in the struggle for national independence, freedom and reunification and contributed significantly to the socio-economic development strides Vietnam has made in its journey of renewal. The economic and socio-political foundation of socialism that has been laid so far has allowed Vietnam to advance toward an equitable, democratic and civilized society and ensured the fundamental human rights for its citizens.
Obviously, problems arise in the course of developing democracy in Vietnam. Such problems as bureaucracy, corruption and power-driven depravity were inevitable and common, as they have been found in almost all modern democratic regimes in the world. They also had subjective causes that came from the process of building democracy. However, based on a well-constructed foundation, the house of democracy, though messy with the litter of construction work, has astonishingly bright prospects.
Fourthly, the principle of democracy ruled only by a single governing class through its political party matches Vietnam 's developmental process. Proceeding from the view that the core and the nature of the development of democracy in Vietnam was that power belongs to the people, with the first and fundamental value being economic rights, Vietnam has given importance to promoting economic development and ensuring advancement and fairness in the field.
The country has also realized that it needed to concentrate on mobilizing all available resources as well as political will for accomplishing its big goals, such as winning independence and freedom or spurring socio-economic development. In this case, the principle of a single, strongly focused political party seems to be the most suitable solution to Vietnam. In its very essence, this is a condition for deploying democracy as it demonstrates the centralized nature of the democratic regime. In any democratic regime, the manifestation of the centralized nature is reflected in its adoption of a constitution and laws in order to serve its operation. 
Under the communist party's leadership, Vietnam has given the top priority to promoting democracy in the economic field. In the past national democratic revolution, farmers, who accounted for 90 per cent of the population, were provided with farming land thanks to the communist party's land reform policy. Recently, as the country has pursued a renewal policy, the people have been given favorable conditions to exercise their right to do business in a multi-sectoral economy operating under socialist-oriented market mechanisms.
Thanks to these efforts, Vietnam has weathered the critical economic crisis in late 1980s. Not only with that, the country's production has grown robustly and the people's living conditions have improved remarkably. Achieving an economic growth along with ensuring social advancement and equality has become the Communist Party of Vietnam's consistent policy in spurring socio-economic development. With that policy, a series of fundamental rights of democracy have been exercised in Vietnam. The people have enjoyed the right to be in pursuit of prosperity and happiness and benefit entirely from the fruits of their labour.
Society has grown in a dynamic and positive manner toward fairness, democracy and civilization. It has accepted social differences as long as these differences have not been against the nation's common interests and cared for all members of society in terms of developmental chances and benefits they could have.
An important thing worthy to be noted here was that coupled with robust socio-economic growth, the renewal process and the transformation of economic mechanisms in Vietnam has been taking place in the context of socio-political stability – a state that not all countries undertaking renewal and reforms have been able to enjoy. After carefully studying these issues, it can be noted that developing democracy based on the principle of a single party is a perfect fit with reality in Vietnam. And neither is this method an exception in the region or the world.
In recent decades, the newly-industrialized countries and territories, which are named as "the Dragons of Asia", such as Singapore, Taiwan, and the Republic of Korea, have all relied on similar political platforms to produce "magical" gains in their socio-economic status as well as in the promotion of democracy. However, it is obvious that there is always another side of the coin in democracy promotion. The Communist Party of Vietnam has clearly noticed threats of depravity and degradation inside its socialist democracy. The acts of violation of democracy, bureaucratic bungling, corruption, and alienation from the people have occurred and cascaded into negative impacts on the evolvement of democracy.
In its leadership capacity, the Communist Party of Vietnam has frankly admitted these problems and showed its resolve to address them. Here, the people have exercised their right to mastery and implemented democracy to contribute largely to successes in the battle against corruption and bureaucracy, and democratic violation. The people have helped to bring to light many cases of corruption and degradation committed by State officials. This exposure should be regarded as a major achievement for Vietnam in promoting democracy. 
Fifthly, the process of developing democracy in Vietnam has been embraced by the entire political system and people from all walks of life. This characteristic is particularly unique in comparison to the development of democracy in some other countries during their "color revolutions" over several recent decades. In those countries, democracy promotion has often occurred inside only a part of the political system, reflecting mainly in the transfer of power from one political group to another political group./. (to be continued)
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All comments [ 11 ]

Gentle Moon 8/10/16 10:09

There is an outstanding phenomenon that many people discuss democracy and the development of democracy in Vietnam. Besides constructive opinions, there are still a lot of misunderstandings or calculated intentions.

Pack Cassiopian 8/10/16 10:12

The cause of renewal in Vietnam includes economic reforms and step-by-step political reforms and both aspects are closely connected and mutually supported.

Jane smartnic 8/10/16 10:14

Democratisation in Vietnam does not have itself as a target but is aimed at stepping up industrialisation and modernisation for the goal of a rich people, a strong country, a democratic, equitable and civilised society.

Love Peace 8/10/16 10:17

Bravo Vietnam!

John Smith 8/10/16 10:22

The development of democracy in Vietnam is the continuation of the rule, "National independence is closely associated with socialism".

LawrenceSamuels 8/10/16 10:27

The development of the socialist democracy at first originates from the demands of development and comprehensive renewal, from the process of renewal and completion of the democracy, as well as from the lesson of making people the roots of society and the democratic regime's nature "of the people, by the people, for the people" in Vietnam.

Deck Hero14 8/10/16 10:29

The working class's interest is identical with the whole nation's interest in the target of "A wealthy people, a strong country, and an equal, democratic and civilised society, making a great unanimity in the society".

Only Solidar 8/10/16 10:31

The working class's interest is identical with the whole nation's interest in the target of "A wealthy people, a strong country, and an equal, democratic and civilised society, making a great unanimity in the society".

yobro yobro 8/10/16 10:33

Democracy is the rule of formation, development and self-perfection of the socialist political system, it is both a target and a driving force to our society's renewal cause.

MaskOf Zero 8/10/16 10:35

These realities define the current development process of the socialist democracy in Vietnam as a process moving in a positive direction.

Love Peace 8/10/16 10:36

Vietnam's development process of democracy is in accordance with the common rule and needs understanding and support from friends in the region and the world.

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