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Building and refining power control mechanisms to guarantee the people’s mastery
25/3/2014 21:30' Send Print

1- Political and state power, hereafter called power, requires necessary centralization during power organization and execution. The centralization of power stems from the demands for creating a ruling strength which surpasses potential and real reaction or opposition of power objects. However, inappropriate centralization may have harmful consequences. Power needs to be centralized and controlled. The tighter the control of power is, the more effective the power centralization is. Centralization and control are the two sides of a unified entity in power organization and execution.

In a democratic regime, particularly a representative democracy, power control is becoming an objective demand because the organization and execution of power is implemented with the authorization mechanism. The authorization mechanism via elections is implemented in Party, State and socio-political organizations. Under this mechanism, power bears such characteristics as relationship - the relations between the power subject, namely, the people, and the people’s authorized agents; representation - the authorized agents should represent the will, aspirations, and interests of the people; legitimacy - power needs to be beneficial to the public or bear common values; rationality, regularity, and legality - power needs to be accepted and respected by the society and the State. Power as a result of the authorization mechanism tends to change at various levels within the system of power organization and execution from objective (social will and interest) to subjective (conception, capacity of an individual or group of power holders), from concrete to abstract, from direct to indirect, from continuous to interrupted, and from public to private (to an individual or group of power holders).

The execution of power via authorization is a difficult and complicated process with potential risks caused by its subjectivity, interruption, abstractness, and so on. Coercion, force, and unilateralism tend to become imposition, arbitrariness, and totalitarianism. Weaknesses, ethical deficiencies, and lack of ability among power holders may result in limitations or power used for inappropriate purposes. Overuse of power (excessive use of power), underuse of power (insufficient use of power), and abuse of power (use of power for the wrong purposes) are all harmful. The lack of, or weakness of, mechanisms to control, give feedback, and make adjustments during power execution often create opportunities for power holders to be bureaucratic, corrupt, and wasteful.

Power is controlled through various channels - within organizations via control and self-control mechanisms, and from outside via mass media, the moral code, and public opinion. Power control takes place regularly and throughout the process of seizing, maintaining, organizing, and executing power - from policy to the organizational and personnel structure. In other words, power control has a broad and a narrow meaning, direct and indirect characteristics with various content and formats, degrees and scopes, methods and means.

The mechanism of power control can be understood as regimes, methods, ways, measures, and procedures for dealing with relationships between political and state institutions and between those institutions and society to make sure that power always belong to the people, to guarantee the people’s mastery, ensuring that power is not distorted. The selection and use of power control mechanisms is determined by objective circumstances, but depends on the will, capacity and morality of the power holders. The characteristics, nature and goals of political regimes and states determine the way that power control mechanisms are selected and used. There are power control mechanisms that serve the interests of the whole society and are positive. But there are mechanisms that serve the interests of groups or the interests of the ruling class and have negative consequences. Power control has increasingly involved demands and principles, particularly technical demands and principles during power organization and execution.

From the perspective of the structure or system in which political and state power is organized and executed, power can be controlled via mutual control between the component organizations of a political system, such as the Party, the State, socio-political organizations, and so on. In each political organization, in-house mechanisms of power control are needed, including: a mechanism of accountability within Party organizations; the division and collaboration of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the State apparatus; publicity and transparency in socio-political organizations, etc. In developed countries, there are mechanisms of push-control and balance, pull and push, explanation and Q&A, hearings, votes of confidence, periodic and non-periodic dismissals, and so on, all on the basis of Party principles and regulations, Party rules, resolutions and directives, State constitution and laws, and the regulations and plans of action of special interest groups.

From the perspective of the social structure or system, power can be controlled via mass media, socio-political organizations, public opinion, social morality, and citizens. A valid and effective mechanism of power control should be an organic combination of power control mechanisms inside and outside the power system, combining self-control and outside pressure. All these power control mechanisms should be guaranteed by certain political and legal foundations, and the political and legal responsibility of organizations and individuals involved in the process of power control. In a modern society, the basic criteria for the evaluation of power control area: a clean state apparatus; effective management and governance; stable, transparent, and strong political parties and socio-political organizations; curbed corruption; high socio-political stability; economic growth and social welfare; and widespread, practical participation in politics by the people.

2- In today’s Viet Nam, power control, in its political aspect, is an objective demand that derives from the goal of building and implementing the people’s mastery, building a clean, strong socialist State governed by law, and combating corruption and waste. In its economic aspect, power control stems from the need to develop a socialist-oriented market economy. In its social aspect, it derives from the need to build a fair, civilized and truly democratic society. In its cultural aspect, it stems from the need to build a new healthy lifestyle to prevent moral degradation among cadres, Party members, and citizens. Moreover, power control is a requirement of international integration, particularly economic integration, to create a transparent and attractive investment climate in Viet Nam.

Viet Nam’s current mechanism of organizing and operating its political system is “Party leadership, State management, and people’s mastery”. This is considered a mechanism to guarantee the power of the people and belong to the people. It coordinates 3 types of power: political power, state power, and social (or people) power. These types of power are unified and are ultimately the power of the people, especially workers, farmers, and intellectuals. The people exercise their mastery directly through the implementation of their rights in accordance with law and indirectly through their authorization of component organizations of the political system. Each of these organizations exercises its power through functions and tasks stipulated by law. The close, rational, and responsible assignment and coordination of functions and tasks within the political system in general, and within the Party, State and socio-political organizations in particular, will generate power control mechanisms which belong to the people and ensure the people’s mastery.

In 30 years of renewal, Viet Nam has made progress in its perception of power and its building and refining of power control mechanisms. Mechanisms to check and supervise power between Party, State and socio-political organizations have developed gradually. The ongoing implementation of the resolutions of the 4th plenum of the 11th Party Central Committee, the National Assembly, and the Government show that building and refining power control mechanisms is improving and receiving more public attention. Nevertheless, there remain theoretical and practical issues that need to be discussed and agreed on by sectors and levels to create new momentum for building and refining power control mechanisms that ensure power belongs to the people or the people’s mastery.

From the political system perspective, the power control mechanisms can only work when they are built and implemented throughout the system and in every component. Therefore, it is necessary to systematically build and refine power control mechanisms that are coupled with supervision, criticism, checks, inspection, and control of power within the Party, State and socio-political organizations for all sectors at all levels, and to combine these mechanisms into a general mechanism of the political system to control power. This will create uniform, valid, and effective power control mechanisms; avoid overlapping and loopholes for power degradation; and overcome any perplexity about the control of power through questioning, hearings, votes of confidence, and dismissals within the Party, State and socio-political organizations at all levels. The unity and uniformity of these power control mechanisms will create favorable conditions for power control in both institutional and moral aspects.

From the perspective of Party leadership, the ruling party needs to build and operate mechanisms to control the Party’s power within the Party, within the political system, and throughout the whole society. The control of the Party’s power is aimed at protecting, building and developing a cleaner, stronger and more capable Party. Although our Party leads the State, socio-political organizations, and the whole society, the Party is organized and operated in the framework of Viet Nam’s Constitution and law. All party organizations and members should respect and abide by the Constitution and the law or be under the control of the Constitution and law and the supervision of the people. Being the ruling party, the Party is under the management of the State. The Party leads the administration to exercise the people’s mastery, and leads the people to check, supervise and protect the administration. Being a member of the Fatherland Front, the Party respects, listens and receives feedback and social criticism from the Fatherland Front and its members on the basis of democracy and consensus. Strict and clear mechanisms of power control within the Party also make the State’s power control mechanisms effective.

From the perspective of the state, the Vietnamese State is an agency of the people’s power, within which the National Assembly, on behalf of the people, creates Viet Nam’s Constitution and law. But the State itself is organized and operates within the framework of the Constitution and law and under the people’s supervision. Viet Nam has made remarkable progress in its awareness of power control within the state apparatus. Aware of the clear assignment of roles and close coordination between state agencies in implementing legislative, executive, and judicial rights, the 11th National Party Congress (2011) set out a guideline on the assignment, coordination, and control of legislative, executive and judicial rights among state agencies. The National Assembly and people’s councils at various levels have made dramatic progress in supervising, checking, and controlling power through their sessions and meetings with voters before and after each session. Public administration is shifting towards service and competition. The independence and quality of judicial activities have made considerable contributions to power control mechanisms. At the same time, there has been a more rational delegation of power to local administrations, coupled with inspection, checking, and supervision by the central agencies. This strengthens grassroots power and responsibility. The power control mechanism between state agencies, however, still has shortcomings and difficulties because of inappropriate awareness, interests, and habits on the part of cadres and government employees.

From the perspective of socio-political organizations, supervision and criticism of the Fatherland Front and its member organizations are now seen as a new method of power control and a guarantee of the people’s mastery. There must be detailed regulations on the authority and responsibility of these organizations for power control. The Fatherland Front and its member organizations will not only consult and nominate candidates for the agencies to be elected by the people as they have already done, but will also propose no confidence votes and dismissals for cadres and government employees who are not fulfilling the tasks authorized by the people. The Fatherland Front and its member organizations will not only propagandize and persuade the people to implement the Party’s guidelines and the State’s policies, but will also facilitate public criticism of these guidelines and policies.

In today’s Viet Nam, mass media is the voice of the Party, the State, and the people. The various media are also tools for implementing the people’s mastery through oversight, detection of power degradation, and controlling power through social pressure based on the law and on ethical norms./.

Lê Minh QuânAssoc. Prof., Dr., Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Public Administration