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Cablegate: Election Day in Hanoi

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

201025Z May 02

2002HANOI01286 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ1356

PAGE 01 HANOI 01286 01 OF 02 201032Z
ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00 DOEE-00
SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 ED-01 FBIE-00 UTED-00 VC-00
HHS-01 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 LAB-01 L-00
VCE-00 AC-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02 OMB-01 OPIC-01
PA-00 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00 SP-00 SSO-00
STR-00 TEST-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 IIP-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00
PRM-00 DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /011W
------------------B0E125 201032Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6528
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
AMEMBASSY BEIJING
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 001286

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI VM DPOL
SUBJECT: ELECTION DAY IN HANOI

REF: A. HANOI 1250 B. HANOI 1199 C. HANOI 997

1. (U) SUMMARY. AIDED BY UNRELENTING GOVERNMENT
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 01286 01 OF 02 201032Z
EXHORTATIONS, VOTER TURNOUTS IN HANOI AND ELSEWHERE IN
VIETNAM FOR THE MAY 19 NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ELECTION WERE
ALMOST "PERFECT," HOWEVER IMPROBABLE THAT SEEMS TO WESTERN
OBSERVERS. MOST VOTING WAS OVER BY 9 OR 10 A.M., ALTHOUGH
POLLS WERE REQUIRED TO REMAIN OPEN UNTIL AT LEAST 5 P.M.
MANY PEOPLE VOTED BY PROXY; OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS WERE ABLE
TO CAST THEIR BALLOTS FOR THEM BY USING THEIR VOTER CARDS,
ALTHOUGH THIS IS TECHNICALLY AGAINST THE RULES. RESULTS
SHOULD BE AVAILABLE BY THE WEEKEND, BUT IT SHOULD NOT BE
MUCH OF A CLIFFHANGER THAT NONG DUC MANH WILL WIN OR THAT
COMMUNIST PARTY CANDIDATES WILL WIN BY A LANDSLIDE. END
SUMMARY.

2. (U) ACCORDING TO AN OFFICIAL REPORT FROM THE CENTRAL
ELECTORAL COUNCIL, 98.45 OF HANOI VOTERS TURNED UP AT THE
POLLS FOR THE MAY 19 NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS, BEATING
THE NATIONAL AVERAGE OF ABOUT 94 PCT. THE FORMER CAPITAL OF
HUE APPARENTLY LED THE NATION WITH AN AMAZING TURN-OUT OF
99.97 PCT OF ELIGIBLE VOTERS, WITH DANANG FOLLOWING AT 99.73
PCT.

3. (U) TRYING BOTH TO MAKE THE DAY AS "FESTIVE" AS
PROMISED AND SIMULTANEOUSLY TO "PERSUADE" PEOPLE TO GO VOTE,
PUBLIC LOUDSPEAKERS WENT ON FULL BLAST AS SOON AS THE POLLS
OPENED AT 7:00 A.M. ALTERNATELY BLARING INVITATIONS TO
VISIT THEIR LOCAL POLLING STATIONS AND PLAYING SONGS
ASSOCIATED WITH HO CHI MINH (WHOSE BIRTHDAY THE NATION WAS
ALSO CELEBRATING), THE CACOPHONY WAS UNAVOIDABLE IN THESE
CITY STREETS (AS WELL AS OUR LIVING ROOMS). THE BROADCASTS
PETERED OUT IN MID-AFTERNOON. AS THE DAY WORE ON, RADIO
PROGRAMMING TURNED FROM THE ELECTION TO REMEMBRANCES OF
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 01286 01 OF 02 201032Z
"UNCLE HO," AND LARGE CROWDS GATHERED IN FRONT OF HIS
MAUSOLEUM.

4. (U) POLOFFS TRAVELED AROUND THE CITY TO GAUGE PUBLIC
ENTHUSIASM. THERE WERE LITERALLY HUNDREDS OF SMALL
NEIGHBORHOOD POLLING STATIONS, SOME SET UP IN DISTRICT
PEOPLE'S COMMITTEE OFFICES, OTHERS IN SCHOOLS, AND EVEN A
FEW IN TEMPLES AND COMMUNAL HALLS. THEY WERE BRIGHTLY
DECORATED WITH RED BANNERS AS WELL AS PROMINENTLY PLACED
POSTER BOARDS FEATURING THE CANDIDATES' RESUMES AND PHOTOS.
CANDIDATES, INCLUDING CONSTITUENCY NUMBER 1'S NONG DUC MANH
(BEST KNOWN AS GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF
VIETNAM), WERE LISTED IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER (BY FIRST NAME).
AT NONE OF THE POLLING STATIONS POLOFFS VISITED WERE THE
ACTION PROGRAMS OR THE ASSETS DECLARATIONS OF THE CANDIDATES
AVAILABLE. SOME VOTERS DID SAY THAT THEY HAD READ THE
ACTION PROGRAMS IN THE DAYS BEFORE THE ELECTION, HOWEVER.

5. (U) MOST PEOPLE WITH WHOM WE SPOKE SAID THAT THEY HAD
BASED THEIR DECISION PRIMARILY ON THE RESUMES. SOME FAVORED
SENIOR OFFICIALS, WHILE OTHERS DECIDED TO VOTE FOR LESS
PROMINENT PEOPLE IN THE HOPE OF GETTING A DELEGATE WHO TRULY
HAD TIME TO REPRESENT THEM. SOME PEOPLE SAID THAT THEY
VOTED ONLY FOR THE YOUNGEST OF THE CANDIDATES IN ORDER TO
PROMOTE THE "NEXT GENERATION" OF LEADERS.

6. (U) MANY POLLING STATIONS HAD UNIVERSITY STUDENTS --
THE GIRLS IN TRADITIONAL AO DAI DRESSES, THE BOYS IN WHITE
SHIRTS AND NECKTIES -- WORKING THE DESKS TO CHECK THE
RECENTLY-ISSUED VOTER "CARDS" (ACTUALLY JUST A SMALL SLIP OF
REGULAR WHITE PAPER WITH THE VOTER'S NAME AND AN OFFICIAL
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HANOI 01286 01 OF 02 201032Z
RED STAMP) AGAINST VOTER LISTS FOR THE NEIGHBORHOOD. EACH
STATION ALSO HAD AT LEAST ONE GREEN-UNIFORMED SECURITY
OFFICIAL (APPARENTLY NOT POLICE), WEARING A SPECIAL RED
ARMBAND. EVEN THE SECURITY PERSONNEL WELCOMED POLOFFS AND
SEEMED PLEASED AT THE INTEREST BY FOREIGNERS IN THE
ELECTION.

7. (U) BY 10 A.M., WORKERS AT POLLING STATIONS WERE
ALREADY TELLING POLOFFS THAT THEY WERE BASICALLY DONE, WITH
ONLY A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE WHO HAD YET TO VOTE. THE PEAK
VOTING HOUR WAS APPARENTLY AROUND 8 A.M. ACCORDING TO MEDIA
COVERAGE, MANY POLLING STATIONS WERE ABLE TO CLOSE UP AT 5
P.M., THE EARLIEST POSSIBLE OFFICIAL CLOSING TIME
(OTHERWISE, POLLS WERE TO REMAIN OPEN UNTIL 7 P.M.) ONE
ELECTION WORKER SAID THE DIFFERENT POLLING STATIONS WERE
COMPETING WITH EACH OTHER ON WHO FINISHED THE EARLIEST.

8. (U) RANDOM CHATS WITH VOTERS ALMOST UNIFORMLY PRODUCED
AN "OF COURSE" WHEN ASKED IF THEY HAD VOTED YET. SOME
WORKING ON ELECTION DAY SAID THAT THEY HAD VOTED BEFORE
GOING TO WORK. MANY, HOWEVER, ADMITTED THAT THEY DID NOT
THEMSELVES GO AND VOTE, AND BLITHELY CONFESSED THAT A
FATHER, OR BROTHER, OR NEIGHBOR HAD TAKEN THEIR VOTER CARD
AND VOTED ON THEIR BEHALF (REF B). (THERE WAS NO
REQUIREMENT AT THE POLLING STATIONS FOR VOTERS TO PRODUCE AN

UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ1357

PAGE 01 HANOI 01286 02 OF 02 201032Z
ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00 DOEE-00
SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 ED-01 FBIE-00 UTED-00 VC-00
HHS-01 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 LAB-01 L-00
VCE-00 AC-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02 OMB-01 OPIC-01
PA-00 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00 SP-00 SSO-00
STR-00 TEST-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 IIP-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00
PRM-00 DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /011W
------------------B0E127 201032Z /38
O 201025Z MAY 02
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6529
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
AMEMBASSY BEIJING
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 02 HANOI 001286

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV

IDENTIFICATION CARD OF ANY SORT, OR TO SIGN ONE'S NAME; THE
NAMES ON THE VOTER LIST WERE MERELY CHECKED OFF WITH AN "X"
AGAINST THE VOTER CARD.) NO ONE SEEMED TO THINK THIS
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 01286 02 OF 02 201032Z
PROCEDURE AT ALL UNUSUAL, ALTHOUGH IT IS APPARENTLY AGAINST
OFFICIAL REGULATIONS. MANY PEOPLE WITH WHOM POLOFFS SPOKE
COULD NOT QUITE REMEMBER FOR WHOM THEY HAD JUST VOTED
(EXCEPT FOR THOSE IN NONG DUC MANH'S DISTRICT), BUT OTHERS
REMINDED POLOFFS THAT THEIR BALLOTS WERE MEANT TO BE
"SECRET" AND SO THEY SHOULD NOT TELL US, ANYWAY.

9. (U) COMMENT: NOBODY HAD EXPECTED THE ELECTION TO BE
MUCH OF A CLIFFHANGER. STILL, HANOI VOTERS SEEMED TO TAKE
TO HEART THEIR "DUTY" TO VOTE (WITH MANY EXPRESSING THE
ERRONEOUS VIEW THAT VOTING IS LEGALLY MANDATORY), EVEN IF BY
PROXY. ONCE THE OFFICIAL RESULTS ARE AVAILABLE, EMBASSY
WILL REPORT ON THE COMPOSITION OF THE NEW NATIONAL ASSEMBLY,
BUT OUR MONEY REMAINS ON THE RE-ELECTION OF NONG DUC MANH
AND A LANDSLIDE FOR COMMUNIST PARTY CANDIDATES.
BURGHARDT

UNCLASSIFIED

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