Vietnam’s leadership succession update – Friday 8 January

While I do not have access to special information, I thought it might be useful to communicate bits of information that are emerging from deliberations over Vietnam’s tense leadership succession process (see my previous post for details) to an English readership and those Vietnamese speakers interested.

On Monday, the Party’s 14th Plenum will meet and take critical decisions in the run up to the Party Congress, scheduled to open on the 21st. Other foreign analysts, such as Carl Thayer and David Brown, are very likely to have a better handle on what is going on, though I suppose some of what I have to say and some of the perspectives I have may be of use. In this spirit, I’ll share some info and impressions as they emerge, beginning with following:

Friday evening, 8 January: People are describing the situation in Hanoi this evening as ‘extremely tense,’ with numerous reports of diverging views within the Politburo (not surprising) and, more significantly, between the Central Committee and the Politburo. Though not totally surprising, it seems apparent (and if true is significant) that the Party’s Central Committee is taking a forceful role, is being assertive, and has even managed to veto positions or recommendations handed down from Politburo.

If true, this indicates that the determination of Vietnam’s new leadership will be a genuinely deliberative process within the Party, which is significant.

With the 14th plenum scheduled for Monday, it appears that the tense chess match that has been unfolding among leading contestants for power and in the Central Committee is only intensifying. It seems certain the next few days will be filled with tension and that some real drama may unfold at the 14th plenum (again, scheduled for Monday).

At present it appears nothing is settled with respect to the selection of a new leadership. Perhaps the most significant bit of info is that the determination of Vietnam’s new leadership will occur through a process of intense deliberation, and that lower ranking members of Vietnam’s political elite (i.e. members of the Central Committee) are demanding a role, and appear in a position to shape the outcome.