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Political innovation in Vietnam at present- an economic and political relation perspective
18/9/2019 14:57' Send Print
Economy plays an decisive role in the movement and development of politics, therefore in order to transform politics, it is necessary to impact economic premise. Image:

The 12th Party Congress set out 12 overall tasks, including the need to thoroughly grasp and handle nine major relations: the relation between innovation, stability and development; between economic innovation and political innovation; between complying with market laws and ensuring socialist orientation; between developing production forces and building and perfecting socialist production relations step by step; between the State and the market; between economic growth and cultural development, social progress and justice; between building socialism and defending the socialist country; between independence, self-reliance and international integration; between the Party leadership, the State management and the people’s mastery.

As can be seen that all these relations are related to economic and political issues; three of them directly related to the relation between economy and politics: between compliance to market laws and ensuring socialist orientation; between the State and the market; between economic innovation and political innovation.

Noticeably, the Party paid special attention to handling the relation between economy and politics during the process of national renewal, especially political innovation. This is absolutely correct, because economy and politics are the two most important areas in every society, having great impacts on other areas. Moreover, between the two there is a dialectical, close and inseparable relation. In order to properly handle this relation, including the issue of synchronous and compatible economic and political renovation, first of all, there must be sound scientific theory. Marxism-Leninism’s viewpoints on the relationship between economy and politics are among important theories for that scientific theory.

According to K. Marx and F. Engels, human society evolves and develops, depending on many factors, such as economy, politics, culture, religion, among others, of which economic factor always plays a decisive role. K. Marx and F. Engels wrote: "In each historical age, economic production and social structure, which is essentially born out of economic production, form the foundation of political and ideological history of that time.”(1) Economy plays a decisive role in the movement and development of politics, therefore, in order to change politics, it is necessary to influence economic premise. Economic development will push the development of politics and other areas. K. Marx and F. Engels maintained that "The development of politics, law, philosophy, religion, literature, arts, among others is based on economic development.”(2) The Vietnamese Communist Party has inherited and creatively applied their idea when identifying that economic innovation is a breakthrough, a central task of the renovation process, thereby overcoming economic crisis and making outstanding development. Based on economic innovation, we have gradually renovated politics over the past 30 years, maintaining political stability, persistently following the goal of socialism, finding driving force for development, from renewing theoretical thinking, institution, law, organizational structure, staff, leadership style, management, working style, among others which the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries failed to do in their reform in the early 1990s of the last century.

With dialectical materialism, while maintaining that economy plays a decisive role in the relation between economy and politics, K.Marx and F.Engels noted that it did not mean that politics plays a passive role, but that it is relatively independent and has an active role. Specifically, politics has a strong impact on the economy." The movement of economy in general and the overall view will pave the way for itself, but it will also be reversely impacted by the political movement that it creates and from which it is relatively independent." (3) According to K.Marx and F.Engels, in the relation between economy and politics, after all, economy plays a decisive role, but in specific periods, circumstances, politics plays a major role in the development of economy, especially the State which has the greatest material strength in politics.

Inheriting the views of K.Marx and F.Engels about the relationship between economy and politics, V.I. Lenin believed that, in this relationship, economy plays a decisive role after all, but in certain periods (such as the period of revolutionary struggle for power, the period of transforming economic model, politics plays a no less great role than economy. He said: "Politics cannot fail to hold a leading position over the economy." (4) This is the theoretical development of V.I. Lenin on the relationship between economics and politics in general, on the role of politics in economy in particular. This thesis was formed as a result of the revolutionary struggle for power and the transformation of economic model in Russia after the October Revolution and implementation of the New Economic Policy (NEP).

In certain periods, especially in the period of economic model transformation, politics may promote or limit economic development, even eliminate some economic relations. In the pre-renovation period in Vietnam, economic relations did not develop normally, but were imposed by political factors. Evidence is that we used political measures to intervene in economy in a subjective and voluntary manner to simplify and unify types of ownership and economic sectors while in reality, forms of ownership and economic sectors are very rich, and diverse which have basis for existence and development. We used political power to impose on production relations, set up and build unreal production relations, not suitable to the level of development of production forces which were weak and low, thus, restricting the development of production forces, economic relations, leading to socio-economic crisis. Being aware of that mistake, entering the renovation period, the Party and State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam advocated the diversification of ownership forms and the development of a socialist-oriented market economy. That policy conforms to demands of reality, so it has quickly gone into life, arousing social resources in production and business. The Vietnamese economy thus has strongly developed in the past few decades, objectively testifying the great role of politics in economy, particularly the role of the Party and the State, the important bodies of the political system, the driving force of the innovation in general and economic innovation in particular.

Although the political factor has an important impact on economic development, the fact that: "Economic development is not sustainable, and does not commensurate with the potential, requirements and actual mobilized resources" (5 ) is rooted from the theoretical thinking of the Party on economy, the State's management, and working style of cadres and public servants in leadership, management and handling of economic issues. It can be said that in Vietnam at present, the great role of political factor’s in economic development has not been fully promoted, so objectives and tasks have not been fully achieved. Concerning this issue, the 12th Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam pointed out: “Political innovation has not been on a par with economic innovation; capacity and performance of the political system have not on the same level with tasks. The objective of making Vietnam basically a modern industrialized country has not been fulfilled.” (6) Thus, the transformation of the economic model from backward agriculture to modern industry has not been achieved. The limitation of the political factor in economic development is also evident in "the State management has not met the development requirements of the market economy and international integration. There remain several constrains in administrative reforms and capacity to develop institution for businesses and people to freely do business and fair competition in the market economy.” (7)

Inconsistency and irrelevance of politics and economy are also signs of not fully promoting the great role of politics in economic innovation in Vietnam. This constraint is likely to highly increase while Vietnam is developing a socialist-oriented market economy and deepening international economic integration. Because, along with the development of a socialist-oriented market economy and international economic integration, the economic relations are evolving complicatedly and diversely. Therefore, on the one hand, if political reform is not carried out in time to promote its positive and inherent nature, there will be delay and gaps between politics and economy, and even obstacles for economic development; on the other hand, the development of a socialist-oriented market economy in the context of international economic integration has positive as well as negative effects. Only by overcoming and limiting the negative effects of the market economy can we ensure sustainable development, maintaining the socialist orientation. Therefore, innovation of politics so that it can promote positive effects, limit the negative effects of the market economy and international economic integration becomes an urgent demand at present. By so doing, politics is able to bring into play it great role and inherent function-the role leading, facilitating and guiding the economy.

It can be affirmed that political reform does not mean changing the political regime, the nature of the political-social regime, nor the implementation of political pluralism, or multi-party, but to promote the role and positiveness of politics in socio-economic development as VI Lenin pointed out. Therefore, political reform in Vietnam today must be based on the principle of persistently following Marxism-Leninism, Ho Chi Minh Thought, national independence and socialism. Political innovation is to make politics synchronize with economy, promote its active and dynamic role in economic development in particular and in all areas of social life in general.

Political innovation in Vietnam today, first of all focuses on reforming the political system so that it responds quickly to the market, international economic integration, is ready to facilitate healthy economic relation development and promptly prevents negative impacts of the market economy, international economic integration and effectively overcomes constraints of the market economy, ensuring economic growth along with social equity, maintaining socialist orientation. In other words, political reform, first of all, must build a political system which is scientific, revolutionary and modern in order to promote the development of industry- and modernity-oriented production to achieve the goal of "making Vietnam basically become a modern industrialized country" as set out by the Communist Party of Vietnam.

The political system is a perfect whole with many closely related components. As a complete system, the political system in Vietnam can be renewed in three ways. The first is to reform integral parts of the political system; the second, to innovate the mechanism of interaction between integral parts of the political system, i.e. renewing the operating mechanism of the political system; the third, to combine the two above-mentioned ways, that is, to reform integral parts of the political system, and to innovate the operating mechanism of the political system. There remain certain limitations in the current political system of Vietnam, its integral parts and operating mechanisms, as the Communist Party of Vietnam frankly put it: "The organizational apparatus of the Party and the whole political system are still cumbersome with many levels; efficiency and effectiveness of some organizations in the political system are overlapping or have not met requirements and tasks.” (8) Therefore, in order to successfully innovate the political system in Vietnam, it is necessary to synchronously innovate both the operating mechanism and its integral parts.

Reforming the operating mechanism of the political system: The political system in Vietnam is operated in accordance with the principle "the Party leadership, the State management, and the people as masters." Of which, the Party is both an integral part, as well as the nuclear leadership of the political system, and the Party must also operate within the framework of the Constitution and the law. First of all, the renovation of the political system’s operating mechanism is aimed at overcoming both tendencies which are the Party acts instead of the State and the Party’s loose leadership towards the State and socio-political organizations. In doing so, it is necessary to clearly define the contents and methods of the Party's rule, as well as the contents and methods of the Party's leadership towards the State and socio-political organizations; at the same time, fully promote the role of party organizations and members in state agencies and socio-political organizations.

Strengthen the Party's leadership towards the State while ensuring the role of the State in socio-economic management. In the current situation, the strengthening of leadership, the innovation of the Party’s leadership contents and modes and the Party’s ruling modes towards the State are to uphold the socialist orientation of the market economy.

The State of the people, by the people and for the people led by the Party has the functions of institutionalizing the Party's viewpoints, and guidelines into full and unified legal documents. In renovating the operating mechanism of the political system, it is necessary to clearly define the leadership role of the Party and the management and executive role of the State. At the same time, it is necessary to improve the capacity of the State in institutionalizing the Party's views and lines into laws, mechanisms and policies. All Party’s guidelines, especially those concerning economic development, must be institutionalized in a timely manner, ensuring quality and high feasibility.

The people exercise their mastery through representative agencies and the mechanism "people know, discuss, do, inspect and supervise." In order for the people to play the role as the true masters of state power, it is necessary to improve their capacity (qualifications, knowledge and stuff); at the same time, the State creates all conditions for the people to practice democracy. Accordingly, the mode of operation of the Vietnam Fatherland Front must be reformed to avoid administrative, ostentatious and nominal forms. The Vietnam Fatherland Front must perform well the role of social supervision and criticism, contributing greatly to building the Party and a socialist rule-of-law state. To do so, the Vietnam Fatherland Front must be close to the people, listen to people's opinions on the Party's and State's guidelines and policies, especially the guidelines and policies on socio-economic development. By so doing, the Vietnam Fatherland Front really acts as a bridge between the people, the Party and the State to turn the people's aspirations, especially the aspirations on production and business and economic development into reality through building and implementing guidelines and policies of the Party and the State.

Regarding the renovation of the political system’s integral parts: the Vietnamese political system consists of three components: the Communist Party, the State, the Vietnam Fatherland Front and the political-social organizations.

For the Party, it is necessary to "enhance the Party's ruling power and ensure the Party's effective and efficient leadership, improve the capacity to formulate guidelines and policies in accordance with objective laws and characteristics of Vietnam, creating a breakthrough for development.” (9) To achieve these objectives, it is necessary to build a truly wise, pioneering, clean, strong Party; resolutely remove those who are degenerated, or conduct embezzlement and corruption from the Party. At the same time, it is necessary to rearrange and streamline the Party’s organizational system and apparatus to ensure scientific and efficient operation; complete the organization, improve the quality and performance of party grassroots organizations; strengthen inspection and supervision of party members and party grassroots organizations.

For the State, quickly perfect the rule-of-law socialist state of in all three legislative, executive and judicial areas. First of all, concentrate on building and perfecting the legal system which is scientific and practical, reflecting the will and aspirations of the people, creating a legal corridor for economic entities and enterprises, healthy economic relation development, promoting economic development. Do away with "the state’s heavy direct intervention in the economy" as well as "the state of subsidy, “asking-giving” mode in building and implementing a number of mechanisms and policies."(10) At the same time, build a streamlined State in terms of organizational structure, so that the State will react quickly to the needs and changes of the market economy and international economic integration. Besides, build the State to better serve and facilitate economic sectors’ development. There is a close link between services, development and management. If the State’s management is well, its services and facilitation of development will be better, because with good management the State can closely grasp the needs, production and business situation of economic entities and on that basis provide better services and facilitation. In contrast, when the State provides better services and facilitation of development, it will manage well, because economic entities will coordinate and create conditions for better state management. Therefore, building a State which better serves and facilitates development will enhance the State’s economic management, soon overcome the State's limitations in this field of management.

Renovate the Vietnam Fatherland Front and socio-political organizations so that they substantially, effectively and efficiently operate, and avoid discrete operation and lack of coordination among socio-political organizations. In order for the socio-political organizations’ close and harmonious coordination, it is necessary first to sum up the model in which specialized agencies provide advice and assistance to the Vietnam Fatherland Front and socio-political organization at district level; expand piloting the model at the provincial level and roll out the model at the district level where conditions permit as set out in the Resolution of the 6th Plenum of the 12th Party Congress. Particularly, enhance the capacity of criticism and supervision of the Vietnam Fatherland Front and socio-political organizations towards the formulation and implementation of guidelines, policies and plans for local and grassroots socio-economic development. Efforts must be made to detect and supervise the implementation of economic development programs and projects, investment in infrastructure construction and hunger elimination , sustainable poverty reduction at local and grassroots levels.


(1) K. Marx and F. Engels: Complete Works, the National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 1999, vol.21, p.11
(2) K. Marx and F. Engels: Complete Works, ibid., vol. 39, p. 271
(3) K. Marx and F. Engels: Complete Works, ibid., vol. 37, p. 678
(4) V.I.Lenin: Complete Works, the Progress Publishing House, Moscow, 1977, vol. 42, p. 349
(5), (6), (7) Documents of the 12th National Party Congress, Office of the Party Central Committee, Hanoi, 2016, pp. 67, 68, 248
(8) Documents of the 12th National Party Congress, ibid., p.193
(9), (10) Documents of the 12th National Party Congress, ibid., pp. 199-200, 100

This article was published in the Communist Review, No. 921 (July2019)

Dinh Van Thuy, PhDDean of Faculty of Philosophy, Academy of Politics Region IV