Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Monday, May 21, 2007

New National Assembly elected in Viet Nam

Elections were held on Sunday for the 500 seat, 5-year term Vietnamese National Assembly, Reuters reported the same day. This parliamentary election marks the first since Viet Nam joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in January of this year. Of the 875 candidates, 150 are non-Communist Party members that have been approved to run by the government. Despite the existence of electoral laws which require contests in all 182 constituencies, elections are far from open in this one-party state. Despite the restrictions against multiple parties, this election marks the first in which the National Assembly is not viewed as merely a rubber-stamping legislative body for the Communist Party.

“The Vietnamese leadership talk about democracy in the same way the Chinese talk about grass-roots democracy,” said Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum Center for Strategic Studies think-tank. “They are not ready for real democracy, but see the value in the appearance that they are moving in that direction.”

The Vietnamese government has dealt with much criticism from the West recently due to the sentencing of numerous pro-democracy activists who supposedly broke the law by “spreading propaganda against the state.” Two such activist lawyers were jailed for 5 years due to incitement to disrupt the election.

For the full article, click here.

For more information regarding the organization of the Vietnamese National Assembly, click here.

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