Post #14 - Vietnam's Leadership Succession Struggle

It is a very important time in Vietnam as the next political succession has entered into its final stages. This is not just a huge event for Vietnam, but for the U.S. as well. Vietnam has an expanding economy and has much influence on the United States' involvement with trade in SE Asia (specifically: access to the Indochina sea). And on January 21st, Vietnam's involvement with America will be decided on a larger scale as the next Party General Secretary is chosen.

Traditionally, in order to choose this next party general secretary, prime minister, state president, and national assembly president, a leadership roster is formed and then voted upon. However, tension has started surrounding who chooses the names that make it onto the leadership roster. One thing to note: Vietnam does not have a supreme leader or commander in chief, so the rule on who decides what becomes a bit blurred.

Two key individuals are battling for the highest position of party general secretary: current General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and the current Prime Minister, Nguyen Tan Dung. And of course, they have very different political views. Prime Minister Dung is someone known for being a reform champion, trying to end Vietnam's deference to China, and expanding freedoms such as internet usage. He is the much more liberal candidate. "Should Mr Dung's reformist faction seize all top four positions up for grabs, a bolder and more unified leadership in Vietnam would take shape. This would be particularly so if the comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-deal deal involving the US, is finalised in the coming years. Relations with the US, both security and economic, would be developed further, and with them perhaps a more credible commitment on the part of Vietnam to improve its poor human rights record. However, in this scenario, there would probably be a greater risk of regional tensions rising as closer ties with the US and its regional allies bring Vietnam more into conflict with China." (Economist) It must also be mentioned that attached to Dung's name are rumors of corruption and carelessness, someone who preaches democracy and expanding social liberties, only to resort to "draconian" methods to take down opponents.

Not in favor of Dung as a successor, current General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong is attempting to nominate himself to serve an additional one or two years, despite age limits, adding 3 of his political party members, which would then in turn knock Prime Minister Dung off the list since there are only 4 slots.

If Trong or one of the conservative faction assumes political power, the opposite would probably take place, with Vietnam solidifying its ties to China, remaining ideologically in sync with the communist giant and keeping the U.S. at an arm's length. "Economic liberalisation, particularly in the banking sector, would continue but at a relatively slower pace. This lower-risk approach favours regional stability, but long-term political and economic development would arguably be slower." (Economist).