Search

 

Cablegate: Vietnamese Go to the Polls On May 20

VZCZCXRO9388
RR RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #0921/01 1381027
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181027Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5396
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 3046

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 000921

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SOCI PREL CH VM

SUBJECT: VIETNAMESE GO TO THE POLLS ON MAY 20


Summary
-------

1. (SBU) After an extensive vetting process, the Communist Party of
Vietnam (CPV) approved 880 candidates to contest 500 seats in the
May 20 National Assembly (NA) elections. In spite of the Party
touting early on that "many more" independent (non-Communist Party)
candidates would run this time around, the ratio of independents is
only slightly higher than that of the election in 2002, but the
ratio of "self-nominated" candidates nearly doubled. In a first for
Vietnam -- and as part of the GVN's efforts to bolster its
sovereignty claims in the Spratly Islands -- constituents in
recently established Spratly Islands voting districts cast ballots
on May 13. Several Politburo members will be on the ballots and are
not expected to lose. Furthermore, some relatively well-known and
outspoken former and current GVN officials, on their own or with
some encouragement, decided against running. Although the election
is highly scripted, the NA has become more assertive in its
government oversight role, grilling ministers about their policies
and failures in combating corruption. The newly elected assembly,
once seated, will likely continue this trend. End Summary.

And the Finalists Are...
------------------------

2. (SBU) After an extensive vetting process led by the Vietnam
Fatherland Front (VFF) -- the Communist Party of Vietnam's (CPV)
"civil society" umbrella organization -- the CPV allowed 880
candidates to contest 500 seats in the May 20 National Assembly (NA)
elections. Of these candidates, 165 work at central Party
organizations and GVN ministries; 291, or about 33 percent, are
female; 169 belong to ethnic minority groups (19 percent); and, 154
(17.5 percent) are "independents" (non-Party members who have
nonetheless been deemed "safe" by the Party). In the previous
election in 2002, there were 759 candidates, of which 257 were
females (close to 33 percent), 141 ethnic minorities (18.5 percent)
and 121 independent (approximately 16 percent).

3. (SBU) In addition, the Party approved 30 "self-nominated"
candidates: those who do not have the official backing of a GVN or
Party entity, but who are virtually all Party members. Most of
these 30 are from major cities, such as Ho Chi Minh City (seven) and
Hanoi (six). The ratio of self-nominated candidates is nearly twice
that of the previous election. That said, these 30 self-nominated
candidates represent a sharp decrease from the 238 announced by the
GVN after the second of three rounds of "consultations."
Furthermore, we are aware of at least a few cases in which Party
officials pressured some self-nominated candidates to withdraw or
found them ineligible to run.

Stepping Into the Polling Booth
-------------------------------

4. (SBU) Eligible Vietnamese voters will be able to vote between
7:00 A.M. and 7:00 P.M. on May 20. Traditionally, most voters cast
their ballots in the morning before heading to the local market.
Proxy voting is common, as a family member may cast votes for the
whole family. In some cases during the last NA election, local
election council members "escorted" those who had not yet voted to
their polling stations. The overall turn-out rate for this election
is likely to be over 99 percent (turnout was 99.73 percent in the
2002 election).

Voting on the Spratlys
----------------------

5. (SBU) In a first for Vietnam -- and as part of the GVN's efforts
to bolster its sovereignty claims in the Spratly Islands --
constituents in the newly established Truong Sa and Bach Long Vy
Island districts (islands in the Spratly chain) in Khanh Hoa
Province and Hai Phong City, respectively, cast votes on May 13. In
addition, voters in two communes in Truong Sa District cast ballots
for candidates to local People's Councils.

Fatherland Front Vets Candidates
--------------------------------

6. (SBU) The extensive five-stage process of vetting candidates took
months. The process began with the National Assembly Standing
Committee (NASC) deciding on how many representatives from the
various social groupings (veterans, females, intellectuals,
laborers, etc.) the NA should have. After examining
"qualifications," the VFF then whittled eligible candidates down to
880.

7. (SBU) A high-level contact in the Office of the National Assembly
(ONA) told us that the Party's "screening process" prevented many
potentially good candidates from running. Himself, for example.
This contact added that "100 percent" of the ONA staff supported his

HANOI 00000921 002 OF 002


possible candidacy during a formal conference. He nonetheless was
not allowed to run, for reasons that he would not make clear.

8. (SBU) In spite of the Party touting early on that there would be
"many more" independent candidates this time around, the ratio of
independents is only slightly higher than that of the election in
2002 (17.5 percent this time, compared with 16 percent in 2002). In
a May online discussion, National Assembly Vice Chairman Nguyen Van
Yeu confirmed that some "independent" candidates are actually former
ranking officials from CPV commissions that have been dissolved.

GVN Power Brokers "Put Their Hats in the Ring"
--------------------------------------------- -

9. (SBU) Several Politburo members are "contesting" seats in the NA
election: CPV General Secretary Nong Duc Manh in Thai Nguyen
Province; President Nguyen Minh Triet in Ho Chi Minh City; Prime
Minister Nguyen Tan Dzung in Haiphong City; NA Chairman Nguyen Phu
Trong in Hanoi; Public Security Minister Le Hong Anh in Can Tho
City; and, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem
in Danang City. They all are expected to be re-elected.

Tough to Self-Nominate
----------------------

10. (SBU) During his May online discussion, NA Vice Chairman Yeu
said self-nominated candidates, some of whom were former ranking GVN
officials as well as popular scientists and teachers, withdraw their
candidacies because of "voter preferences." He confirmed, however,
that, in some cases, Party committees had asked individual Party
members not to run. "As Party members, they are supposed to follow
Party committee instructions," Yeu said.

11. (SBU) Of the original list of self-nominated candidates, many
either elected to withdraw or did not get through the Party vetting
process. Some relatively well-known -- and outspoken -- former and
current GVN officials, including former Vice Minister of Natural
Resources and Environment (MNRE) Dang Hung Vo, current Trade
Minister Truong Dinh Tuyen and former Justice Minister Nguyen Dinh
Loc have "chosen" not to run. According to our NA contact, the CPV
did not allow more self-nominated candidates to run because it
feared an embarrassing scenario in which high-ranking GVN officials
are defeated by possibly lower-ranking self-nominated candidates.


12. (SBU) Former MNRE Vice Minister Vo announced his self-nomination
in March, telling local press that Nguyen Lan Dzung, a popular local
professor, convinced him to do so. Professor Dzung had publicly
appealed for individuals like Vo to run, saying "the NA needs
delegates who are frank, devoted and knowledgeable." After
declaring his candidacy, Vo said he "would not mind taking on" his
own former boss at the MNRE as an NA delegate. In April, Vo decided
to withdraw his candidacy, reportedly out of fear he would not
survive the vetting process. This followed former Party General
Secretary Le Kha Phieu's public statement welcoming Vo's intention

SIPDIS
to run.

13. (SBU) For his part, current Trade Minister Tuyen told local
press in March that he had thought of applying to run for the
elections as a self-nominated candidate, but later decided not to.
Tuyen publicly said that one of two Party Politburo members he had
talked to discouraged him from running, while the other had
supported his possible candidacy. (Note: Party statutes say that
Party members cannot run in the NA election unless the Party
"assigns" them to run. The Communist Party Secretariat screens
government employees of the rank of vice minister or above, while
the Politburo approves ministers and those of higher rank. End
Note.)

Comment
-------

14. (SBU) Although the election is highly scripted, the National
Assembly itself has become more assertive in its government
oversight role, grilling ministers about their policies and failures
in combating corruption. The newly elected assembly, once seated,
will likely continue this trend. End Comment.

MARINE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Ramzy Baroud: Year in Review Will 2018 Usher in a New Palestinian Strategy

2017 will be remembered as the year that the so-called ‘peace process’, at least in its American formulation, has ended. And with its demise, a political framework that has served as the foundation for US foreign policy in the Middle East has also collapsed. More>>

ALSO:


North Korea: NZ Denounces Missile Test

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has denounced North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test. The test, which took place this morning, is North Korea’s third test flight of an inter-continental ballistic missile. More>>

ALSO:

Campbell On: the US demonising of Iran

Satan may not exist, but the Evil One has always been a handy tool for priests and politicians alike.

Currently, Iran is the latest bogey conjured up by Washington to (a) justify its foreign policy interventions and (b) distract attention from its foreign policy failures.

Once upon a time, the Soviet Union was the nightmare threat for the entire Cold War era – and since then the US has cast the Taliban, al Qaeda, and Islamic State in the same demonic role. Iran is now the latest example…More


Catalan Independence:
Pro-independence parties appear to have a narrow majority. More>>