Vietnam will showcase its five-yearly day of democracy on Sunday with an election for a parliament tightly controlled by a Communist Party that is seeing unprecedented challenges to its four-decade political monopoly. Some 69 million Vietnamese are registered to vote to choose representatives for a 500-seat National Assembly, with the ballot comprised overwhelmingly of candidates representing the secretive party or nominated by state institutions. The election could turn out to be an anti-climax, after an astonishing swell of public interest in the scores of activists, celebrities and ordinary Vietnamese who tried to run as independent candidates, and it could test the sincerity of the party’s promises of inclusiveness. Almost all of the hopeful independents could not get on the ballot and were eliminated during the party’s strict vetting processes, which many of them said was rigged to shut them out.
Among the failures was a well-known broadcaster who received unanimous support from a sample of constituents picked to judge him, and a teacher omitted because his dog defecated outside his neighbor’s house. The party has been on a publicity blitz to encourage people to vote.
Loudspeakers have been blaring on streets festooned with propaganda billboards, which feature the hammers and sickles and peasants and soldiers synonymous with the socialist ideology that vies for influence in a country with an insatiable appetite for capitalism.
“This is our proud right. All Vietnamese people have right and responsibility to vote and build the country,” Nguyen Hanh Phuc, general secretary of the largely rubber stamp parliament, said on Friday.