HANOI (Reuters) – When lawmakers casting ballots are nearly all Communist Party members and “no confidence” is not among the options, a parliamentary censure vote on Vietnam’s top leadership might seem like a pointless exercise.
Though heads are unlikely to roll, Saturday’s ballot on the performances of about 50 top officials will provide a degree of accountability, and the possibility of a rare glimpse into the dynamics of a party undergoing a period of soul searching after nearly four decades of tight control.
Vietnam is changing fast and rumours are rife of fissures within the secretive party over how to address that change while preserving the status quo. Experts the rifts say broadly pit conservative ideologues against the more liberal, capitalist apparatchiks of a party traditionally ruled by consensus.
“This vote provides a show of openness to try to calm tensions, but what it’s done is showed there’s infighting between different factions,” said prominent political analyst Nguyen Quang A.
Discontent has been simmering in Vietnam over corruption, land grabs and an inefficient state-centred economy – problems economists say became entrenched during a period of boom growth and are now festering due to the scope and pace of measures to fix them.
Experts see no challenge to the party’s grip on power in the foreseeable future and say the trajectory of the $178 billion economy, and whether it realises its much-touted potential as an emerging market star, depend on which faction gains the upper hand.