February 07, 2016

12th Congress of Communist Party of Vietnam ‘A Congress of Unity–Democracy–Discipline’

R Arun Kumar

THE 12th Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) convened from January 21 to 28, 2016 in Hanoi, concluded successfully. The theme of the Congress was: 'Promoting the building of a spotless and strong Party, while putting into play the strength of the entire nation and socialist democracy, stepping up reform comprehensively and synchronously, firmly safeguarding the Fatherland and maintaining a peaceful and stable environment, and striving to turn Vietnam into a modernity-oriented industrialised country'.

1,510 delegates representing more than 4.5 million party members attended the Congress. 194 of them were women, while 174 were ethnic minority people. Two of the delegates were under 30 years old, 65 were aged between 31-40, 384 between 41-50, while the majority 992 delegates were aged between 51-60, and 64 aged between 61-70.

The Congress discussed and adopted five important documents: (i) The Political Report of the 11th Party Central Committee; (ii) Report reviewing the implementation of socio-economic development tasks during 2011-2015 and putting forth directions and tasks for 2016-2020; (iii) Report on leadership of the 11th Party Central Committee, Polit Bureau and Secretariat; (iv) Report on the observance of the Party's 11th tenure Statutes and (v) Report on the implementation of the 11th tenure 4th Plenum Resolution on Party building.




The Congress elected a 200-member Central Committee (of which 100 are new) consisting of 180 official members and 20 alternate members. The average age of the Central Committee is 53 years (there are 19 people who are under 45 years old) and it has 20 women members and 17 from ethnic minorities. In its first meeting, the Central Committee, in turn, elected a 19-member Polit Bureau, a 3-member Secretariat and a 21-member Control Commission. Nguyen Phu Trong, was re-elected as the general secretary. For the first time, the Polit Bureau has three women members. Nine members were relieved from the Polit Bureau, among whom are President Truong Tan Sang and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.




The Draft Report that was circulated months in advance, was extensively discussed and debated by the members of the Party and also the people of Vietnam, before it was placed in the Congress. This exercise brought in nearly 26 million comments, which included opinions expressed at Party conferences at all-levels, by National Assembly deputies and various mass organisations like the Vietnam Fatherland Front.

According to a Party statement, these “opinions are diverse and touch upon all fields, focusing on the implementation of a socialist-oriented market economy, economic restructuring and growth model reform. Others centre around anti-corruption; the building of a spotless and strong Party and administration; and firmly safeguarding the nation’s independence, sovereignty, sovereign right and territorial integrity”. All these comments, suggestions, observations are summarised and placed before the delegates of the Congress, by a 'sub-committee on the draft documents', who in turn, debated them in various plenary sessions and group discussions. It was after such an intense discussion and voting that the Reports were adopted by the Congress.

The vibrancy of inner-party democracy was also visible in the manner the delegates elected the new Central Committee. The Party's statutes and election regulations adopted earlier at the Congress state: “The outgoing Central Committee's list must ensure the number of nominees has a surplus of between 10-15 percent, as agreed upon in. Secondly, some nominees will be named by delegates attending the Party Congress and others will nominate themselves. For those outgoing Central Committee members who are not re-nominated, but are introduced by participating delegates, a secret ballot will be held to decide if they stay on the nomination list or not. The surplus nominees on the official list are not allowed to exceed 30 percent”. Following this elaborate procedure a list of nominees was presented to the delegates on January 24, after which, delegates thoroughly went through the list.

A press release issued on January 25 by the Party on the election of the Central Committee, detailing the process that went in the election stated: “Working in delegations in the morning, the delegates considered the list of proposed personnel for the 12th Party Central Committee. The presidium then met and gave opinions on the candidacy, nomination or withdrawal from the list of nominees. The Congress had a plenary session in the afternoon under the chair of Nguyen Phu Trong – Party general secretary and chairman of the presidium. On behalf of the presidium, To Huy Rua – a Polit bureau member, secretary of the Party Central Committee and chairman of the Party Central Committee’s Commission on Organisation, delivered a report summarising the candidacy, nomination and withdrawal of the delegations and delegates.

“The participants then elected the vote counting board. They cast ballots to approve the list of candidates and nominees and cases requesting to withdraw from the list of candidates for the 12th Party Central Committee. After that, the Congress approved the list of nominees to the 12th ​Party Central Committee”.

The Congress then adopted the list of candidates for the 12th Party Central Committee and on January 26, election to the Central Committee was held. This entire process shows the way in which inner-party democracy is practiced in the CPV.




The CPV had changed the way the Political Report that was presented to the Congress is structured. Instead of dividing the Report into sections, it had identified 17-issues to “easily present, follow and understand”.

Presenting the Report to the Congress, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, highlighted the impact of global financial crisis, the resultant economic slowdown and also the “inherent unresolved limitations and flaws” of Vietnamese economy and the “shortcomings and weaknesses in leadership and management”, on economic stability, growth rate and people's living standards. Despite all these, Trong stated, “the economy has overcome numerous difficulties and challenges, its scale and potentials improved; its macro-level stability has basically been sustained, inflation kept under control; its growth maintained at reasonable rates and gradually recovered since 2013, becoming higher one year after another”. On the social security front, he stated, “Education and training, science and technology, culture, social affairs and healthcare have enjoyed a measure of development. Social security has been better attended to and fundamentally ensured whereas the people’s living standards have witnessed continued improvement”.

Trong also self-critically noted: “However, renewal remains to be unharmonious and incomprehensive. Certain socio-economic targets have failed; many targets and criteria constituting the goal for ours to become basically an industrialised country towards modernity by 2020 have not been fulfilled...Considerable difficulties have remained in the livelihood of a segment of the population, especially those in remote and hinterland areas. The four dangers pinpointed by the Party have remained in existence, with complicated developments visible in certain respects. Deterioration in political ideology, morality and lifestyle among a not-small portion of public cadre and Party members, as well as red tape, corruption and wastefulness have yet to be rolled back. Certain aspects in Party building and building of the political system have been marked by retarded progress”.

Taking stock of the entire 30 years period since the introduction of Doi Moi (Policy of Renewal), Trong has stated that the policy was proved correct and the path chosen for the advancement to socialism as 'suitable to Vietnam's realities'. Stating that it is important to continue 'innovating' and “creatively applying and developing Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought”, he stressed upon the importance of Party building and strengthening Party organisation. This is needed as the “world and regional situation will witness many extremely complicated developments” in the coming period.

He further stated that the Party should lead the country in the construction of 'socialist-oriented market economy', which is “modern and integrated internationally; under the administration of a socialist law-governed State and the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam” and “having progressive relations of production that match the development level of forces of production, with multiple forms of ownership, various economic sectors, of which the State sector plays the leading role and the private sector is an important engine of the economy”.

Trong also noted that the Party should take care to ensure that the government formulates and executes policies to “gradually eliminate development imbalances among domains, geographical areas and regions; to ensure harmony in interests and social relations; to give adequate attention to disadvantaged sections of people, ethnic minority people in mountain, hinterland and remote areas, and keep in check the widening of the rich-poor gap”.

Trong, in his presentation, also warned the Party to be vigilant about “the danger of economically lagging farther behind other countries in the region and the world and the danger of 'peaceful evolution' staged by hostile forces to sabotage our country; degeneration in political ideology, morality and lifestyles, and...the existence and complicated developments of red-tape, corruption and wastefulness, etc”. In order to face these challenges, he called upon the Party to “redouble efforts to build our Party clean and strong, enhance the Party’s leadership capacity and combativeness, and build a strong political system”.

In order to overcome such vices, he wanted the Party committees and State authorities at all levels to “frequently dialogue with the people, listen to them, learn from them, be receptive to their comments, and address their difficulties, problems and legitimate requests; enact concrete and appropriate forms, mechanisms and measures for the people to express their ideas and aspirations and exercise their right to ownership”. He said the guiding motto should be, “The people know, the people discuss, the people do, the people inspect”.

Trong also dealt with many other aspects concerned with the weaknesses in the Party, like in the proper practice of self-criticism and criticism, being 'over-considerate' and 'reluctant' to combat alien tendencies. He also called for combating 'individualism, opportunism, vulgar pragmatism' and for a proper evaluation of cadre on the basis of their use, work and prevent 'backhanders for hierarchical positions'.

He concluded his presentation by calling upon the Party to retain firmly its 'working class nature' and 'the vanguard and exemplary role of cadre and Party members', by cultivating a 'scientific, collective and democratic working style'. He said the effort should be to “build the Party clean and strong politically, ideologically, organisationally and morally.” Terming the 12th Party Congress as one of 'unity–democracy–discipline', he said that it is only on the solid foundations of the Party, the country can progress towards a 'fine and glorious period of development'. He ended with an earnest hope: “We will definitely succeed on our path to socialism and building ours into a prosperous and happy country.”