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Cablegate: Another "Success" for "Democracy" in Vietnam

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




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Another "success" for "democracy" in Vietnam

Ref: Hanoi 1116

1. (U) Vietnamese voters went to the polls on Sunday,
April 25 to vote for People's Councils at the provincial,
district, and local levels (reftel). According to a report
from the Ministry of Internal Affairs carried by the CPV
flagstaff newspaper "Nhan Dan" on April 27, overall turnout
was an impressive (note -- and improbable -- end note) 99.7
pct of eligible voters. Three provinces -- Vinh Long, Dong
Nai, and Thua-Thien Hue -- allegedly tied for best
performance, with 99.9 pct turnout. All provinces claimed
turnouts of at least 95 pct. Altogether, 51 million voters
were said to have cast their polls to elect a total of
311,930 representatives at the three levels.

2. (U) As in National Assembly elections in 2002, local
voting procedures demonstrated considerable flexibility,
often with one member of a family able to cast all the
family's ballots, contrary to election laws. There was
informal competition among the sub-district and local
offices at which the ballots were cast for which would reach
100 pct turnout soonest on voting day. Not only were the
old-fashioned propaganda loudspeakers in each neighborhood
blaring exhortations to vote (along with catchy songs about
voting), but local officials in many cases went from door-to-
door to urge people to show up. Some precinct officials
also apparently picked up ballots in person from sick or
otherwise infirm voters.

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3. (U) By 10:00 a.m., many voting centers in Hanoi were
devoid of voters, although the local officials and
volunteers were required to remain on site until 7 p.m.,
when polls officially closed. Many of the workers were
retired local officials and teachers, helped out by members
of the Youth Federation in their distinctive blue shirts.
National flags were flying throughout Hanoi as another
indication of this "festive" day.

4. (U) The "Nhan Dan" article also boasted about the
conditions of "stability and order" that existed at all
polling stations, even in "so-called hotspots." It noted
that voting in remote areas, including mountainous parts of
the Central Highlands and the Spratly Islands troop
deployments, began voting more than a week ago to overcome
the problems of distance voting. Results are expected to be
announced on April 27.

5. (U) Comment: As in the 2002 National Assembly
elections, voter apathy appeared strong, despite the claimed
high turnout. Voters appeared to understand the "duty" part
of voting -- and probably worried about consequences of
retribution from local officials if they failed to help
their locality meet the high targets for turnout -- more
than enjoyed their "right" to choose their local
representatives. Judging from the resumes posted at each
polling center, a very large number of the candidates were
local officials from a government organ or mass
organization, rather than truly independent candidates.
(According to Voice of Vietnam, only 1,065 of the 484,189
candidates were independent candidates.) Embassy predicts a
strong majority of victories among CPV-member candidates.

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