Vietnam’s Next President: Selection process protracted(次期国家主席レースは長期化の様相)


Selection process of Vietnam’s next President, after the former President Tran Dai Quang’s sudden passage, can be protracted, unlike as people expected. On 28th September, the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) announced that the coming 8th plenary session of Party Central Committee (TU8) from 2nd  to 6th October may not decide the nominee for the next President, indicating that the CPV leadership has yet to reach consensus on who to assume the position. Some observers find it as a signal that Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong, CPV’s General Secretary, the nation’s de-facto top leader, is trying to take the post of President, formal head of state, as well.

Right after Mr. Quang’s passage on 21st September, it was widely expected that TU8 would decide the next President, followed by the official confirmation at the National Assembly session starting on 22nd October. Spokesman of the Central Committee Office, however, said at the press conference on 28th September, “it depends on the preparation progress of competent authorities whether or not TU8 decides a candidate to be nominated in the National Assembly.”  This, to observers, indicates possible delay in the process.

The most likely candidates at present are Mr. Tran Quoc Vuong, standing member of CPV Secretariat, and Mr. Nguyen Thien Nhan, Party Secretary of Ho Chi Minh City. Aside from the two, Defense Minister General Ngo Xuan Lich and Tong ThiPhong, a Deputy Chairwoman of the National Assembly are also possible candidates, according to some observers.

On top, a rumor has it strongly that General Secretary Trong may assume the presidency. The spokesperson’s comment, “TU8 will not vote to add members to the Politburo”, is noteworthy. The key positions including President, standing member of CPV Secretariat, Defense Minister, and Party Secretary of Ho Chi Minh City are occupied by the members of Politburo, the highest body of CPV. Politburo has only 16 members besides the late President Quang and Mr. Dinh The Huynh who is currently under medical treatment.

The National Assembly has three Deputy Chairpersons besides Ms. Phong and none of the three is Politburo member. Therefore, even if Ms. Phong is elected to be President, the vacancy of one Deputy Chairperson chair can be filled with non-politburo members. On the other hand, if either of Mr. Vuong, Mr. Nhan or Mr. Lich assumes the position of the President, Politburo has to decide a successor from the remaining members, leaving very little option.

Overseas Vietnam observer Ms. Vo Thi Hao told BBC that the fact that TU8 does not discuss about adding a member to the Politburo “signals the integration of the two posts of General Secretary and President may turn into a reality.”

Central Committee Office only utters it will update the discussion status at an appropriate timing. Political game behind the closed doors will go on during the coming plenary.

(Akihide Mori, Vietnam watcher)








(ベトナムウオッチャー 杜明英)