Vietnam’s Communist regime ended an unprecedented internal power struggle Thursday by deciding to stick to the status quo over a more reform-minded challenger, USA Today reports:
Nguyen Phu Trong, who represents the conservative wing of the party, prevailed over current Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, 66, a reformer who had angled for general-secretary, the most powerful post in the one-party state…..Trong, who represents the conservative wing of the party, prevailed over current Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, 66, a reformer who had angled for general-secretary, the most powerful post in the one-party state…. The reappointment of Trong, who met with President Obama during a state visit to Washington, D.C., last July, represents a victory for the cautious, leadership-by-consensus approach that Vietnam has historically taken.
Apparently justifying the iron-fisted rule of the Communist Party, Trong said the country needs discipline to meet its goal of becoming a modern, industrialized society.
“However, a country without discipline would be chaotic and unstable … Democracy should go alongside discipline. There should be no imbalance. We should not go to either extreme. We need to balance between democracy and law and order. “
“Many people were afraid that a conservative trend would prevail if Mr. Trong is re-elected. But . . . whoever they may be, and however conservative they may be, when they are at the helm they are under pressure to carry out reforms,” Le Hong Hiep, a visiting Vietnamese fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asia Studies in Singapore, told AP.
Jonathan London, a Vietnam scholar at City University in Hong Kong, called the political infighting “truly unprecedented in the history of Vietnam. … It was quite tense.”
“Essentially, the selection process was in favor of a continuation of the more conventional party establishment approach to things, rather than the controversial figure of Nguyen Tan Dung, who was as close to a maverick as you can get in the context of Vietnam’s political system,” London said.
US officials have said Vietnam has shown greater restraint in arrests and prosecution of dissent but needs to do more to improve its human rights record. According to US officials, there were about 100 prisoners of conscience in 2015, down from more than 160 in 2014.