The election of Vietnam’s new national leadership signals the start of a new five-year government that will likely see the country continue on a path of economic success and increasing international leadership.
Vietnam’s National Assembly convened in early April to elect the country’s top leadership positions. The 14th National Assembly (2016-2021) held elections for the president, prime minister and general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam. The incoming 15th National Assembly (2021-2026) is expected to hold its elections on May 23, and re-elect the leaders to confirm their mandate for the next five years.
The two leadership elections are held one after the other with the same candidates in order to ensure a prompt transition, avoid a “power vacuum” and quickly enact national strategies. The four key leadership positions—the prime minister, president, party general secretary and chair of the National Assembly—are also known as the Four Pillars of Vietnam and will promote rapid, strong and sustainable development in Vietnam over the next five years.
Key leadership roles pave the way for the next five years of growth
Nguyen Phu Trong now holds the position of general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam for a third term and is considered a “special case” as he has passed the age limit for the office under election regulations. Over his last two terms in the position, Nguyen Phu Trong demonstrated international leadership and earned the trust of Vietnamese citizens by enacting policies to support national growth. The highlights of his tenure also include his rigorous policies and actions in the fight against corruption.
Nguyen Xuan Phuc now holds the position of president after a successful term as prime minister, during which he made a significant international impact by leading Vietnam to achieve the dual goals of successfully controlling the pandemic while still driving economic development. During this period, Vietnam also took an international leadership role as ASEAN Chair for 2020. Nguyen Xuan Phuc also led Vietnam to its election as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for 2020-2021 with almost unanimous support from 192 out of 193 members.
The Chairman of the National Assembly is Vuong Dinh Hue, who formerly worked as an economist in the financial sector and served as minister of finance, deputy prime minister and, most recently, as party secretary of Hanoi. He received an absolute vote of confidence for the position of Chairman of the National Assembly, showing that the members of the 14th National Assembly fully support him in his new role.
As for prime minister, the election of Pham Minh Chinh signals a significant change in the political tradition of Vietnam. Over the years, this position has often been arranged according to regional allocation and candidates previously had to hold the position of deputy prime minister in order to be eligible. This shift suggests that Vietnam now places more emphasis on skilled and capable leadership rather than procedural requirements. This effort to maintain strong leadership is key to Vietnam’s plan to be a developed, middle-income country with modern industry by 2030, the 100-year anniversary of the establishment of the Communist Party of Vietnam. By 2045—the 100th anniversary of the country’s independence—the government aims to firmly establish Vietnam as a developed, high-income country.
According to political observers, Pham Minh Chinh has been notably successful in his tenure as secretary of the Quang Ninh Provincial Party Committee for the 2011-2015 term, where he promoted strong tourism development in the world-famous Ha Long Bay. During this period, he was a pioneer in promoting a new “from brown to green” growth model in Quang Ninh province. This shift has brought many successes in development, contributing to the rapid change of Quang Ninh’s appearance and significantly reducing environmental pollution from coal mining. The changes in strategy and the shift to green growth have attracted the attention of domestic and foreign investors.
Pham Minh Chinh also served as a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of Vietnam in the 11th Party Congress beginning in 2016 and became the head of the Organizing Committee of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam. Since then, he has continued to focus on building the technical and strategic capacity of Vietnam’s government staff, while strengthening supervision, oversight and efforts to combat corruption within the Party and the political system. His election as prime minister will likely see him continue his efforts to turn Vietnam into a regional and global leader.
In recent years, Vietnam has made significant gains in economic development and has taken on an increasingly high-profile international role. However, in order to sustain this growth and the country’s leadership, Vietnamese leaders will need to roll out new policies to maximize Vietnam’s potential, especially in the context of increasingly fierce geopolitical competition and the deep impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.