This study aims to examine the perception of Vietnamese voters on democracy and democracy as a source of the Communist Party of Vietnam’s legitimacy. The Communist Party of Vietnam, the dictatorial ruling party of Vietnam since the unification of the country in April 1975, has based their legitimacy on the claims that they liberated the working class through proletarian revolution, fought for the independence of the country, and has been developing the economy of the country so as to give Vietnamese better standard of living. However, as waves of democratization sweeping the world and democracy is usually perceived as a more preferable system than dictatorship by the people, the Communist Party of Vietnam has been attempting to maintain their legitimacy by putting a lot of effort in presenting themselves as a democratic regime. In order to study Vietnamese perception on democracy and democracy as a source of the Communist Party of Vietnam’s legitimacy, the author surveyed more than one thousand Vietnamese in the course of two weeks after the 2016 parliamentary election of Vietnam. The respondents are Vietnamese voters who were selected using convenience sampling, one type of non-probability sampling. The outcomes were starling but not surprising, the majority of Vietnamese voters expressed disbelief on the country’s political situation in general and government’s transparency and accountability in particular. Respondents also revealed that they prefer a more democratic and transparent regime. Most respondents also prefer democracy, arguing that being democratic plays a critical role in economic development. However, according to them, a multiparty electoral system is not the most important criterion for democracy. Some respondents showed a great deal of tolerance to the Communist Party despite acknowledging its bad governance and widespread corruption, which may suggest that the Communist Party of Vietnam is still perceived to be obedient-worthy by a certain proportion of the population. These results suggest the relevance of recent economic growth, the rise of nationalism and, perhaps to a lesser extent, socialism as a state building ideology as sources of the legitimacy of the Communist Party of Vietnam.
Keywords: Vietnam, Public Perception, Democracy, Legitimacy
Babones, S. (2017). Vietnam's GDP is just 11 Years behind China, and Growing Rapidly. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/salvatorebabones/2017/11/09/vietnam-is-following-in-chinas-footsteps-in-gdp-growth-at-least
Best, M. L., & Wade, K. W. (2009). The Internet and Democracy: Global Catalyst or Democratic Dud? Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 29(4), 255-271.
Burnell, P. (2006). Autocratic Opening to Democracy: Why Legitimacy Matters. Third World Quarterly, 27(4), 545–562.
Business Anti-Corruption Portal (BACP). (2017). Vietnam Corruption Report. Retrieved from https://www.
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (2018). The World Fastbook: Vietnam. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov
Cimigo. (2011). 2011 Vietnam NetCitizens Report, Internet Usage and Development in Vietnam. Retrieved from www.cimigo.com/en/download/research_report/348
Cường, N. (2017). President of Vietnam: Only Insiders could understand the Ongoing Fierce Fight against Corruption [Chủ tịch nước: “Người trong cuộc mới thấy chống tham nhũng cam go, quyết liệt”]. Retrieved from http://infonet.vn/chu-tich-nuoc-nguoi-trong-cuoc-moi-thay-chong-tham-nhung-cam-go-quyet-liet-post2
Diamond, L. J. (2004). Lecture at Hilla University for Humanistic Studies: What is Democracy? Diamond, L. and Morlino, L., The Quality of Democracy (2016). In L. Diamond (Ed.), Search of Democracy. London: Routledge.
Easton, D. (1965). A Systems Analysis of Political Life. New York: John Wiley.
Easton, D. (1975). A Re-Assessment of the Concept of Political Support. British Journal of Political Science, 5(4), 435–457.
Herr, H., Schweisshelm, E., & Vu, T-M. (2016). The Integration of Vietnam in the Global Economy and its Effects for Vietnamese Economic Development. Switzerland: International Labour Office (ILO). Retrieved from http://www.global-labour-university.org/fileadmin/GLU_Working_Papers/GLU_WP_No.44.pdf
Hiển, V. Q. (2015). Ho Chi Minh’s Application and Development of Proletarian Revolution Theory into Vietnam’s Revolutionary Situation [Hồ Chí Minh vận dụng và phát triển lý luận cách mạng vô sản vào thực tiễn cách mạng Việt Nam]. Retrieved from http://www.tapchicongsan.org.vn/Home/Nghiencuu-Traodoi/2015
Huntington, S. P. (1991). The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late 20th Century. Oklahoma, US: University of Oklahoma Press.
Internet World Stats (IWS). (2016). Asia Marketing Research, Internet Usage, Population Statistics and Facebook Subscribers. Retrieved from http://www.internetworldstats.com/asia.htm#vn (2017 August 1)
Internet World Stats (IWS). (2017). Top 20 Countries with the Highest Number of Internet Users. Retrieved from http://www.internetworldstats.com/top20.htm
Ives, M., & Fuller, T. (2014). Anger Grows in Vietnam Over Dispute With China. Retrieved from https://www.
Jeffries, I. (2011). Contemporary Vietnam: a Guide to Economic and Political Developments. London, UK: Taylor & Francis.
Kerkvliet, B. J. T. (2015). Democracy and Vietnam. In W. Case (Ed.), Routledge Handbook of Southeast Asian Democratization (pp. 435-437). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Kneuer, M. (2013). Die Suche nach Legitimität: Außenpolitik als Legitimationsstrategie Autokratischer Regime. Politische Vierteljahresschrift, Special Issue 47, 205–236.
London, J. D. (Ed.). (2014). Politics in Contemporary Vietnam: Party, State, and Authority Relations (Critical Studies of the Asia-Pacific). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Mai Anh, N. T. (2016). Improving Party Members’ Quality–the Core Issue in Building a Strong and Transparent Party in the Current Situation [Nâng cao chất lượng đảng viên-Vấn đề cốt lõi để xây dựng Đảng trong sạch, vững mạnh trong tình hình hiện nay]. Retrieved from http://www.tapchicongsan.org.vn/Home/Nghiencuu-Traodoi/2016/40378/Nang-cao-chat-luong-dang-vien-Van-de-cot-loi-de.aspx
Nguyen, D. H. T., & Robinson, C. (2017). A Study of Decision Making by North Korea and Vietnam when Facing Economic Upheaval. Graduate School of Asia-Pacifc Studies, Waseda University Journal of the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, 34, 19-37.
Pitkin, H. (1965). Obligation and Consent --I. The American Political Science Review, 59(4), 991–999. doi: 10.2307/1953218
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). (2017a). Doing Business in Viet Nam, A Reference Guide for Entering the Viet Nam Market. Retrieved from https://www.pwc.com/vn/en/publications/2017/dbg-2017.pdf
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). (2017b). The Long View, How will the Global Economic Order Change by 2050. Retrieved from https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/world-2050/assets/pwc-world-in-2050-summary-report-feb-2017.pdf
Rawls, J. (2007). Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: Harvard University Press.
Raz, J. (1986). The Morality of Freedom. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Scharpf, F. W. (1999). Governing in Europe: Effective and Democratic? Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Schatz, E. (2006). Access by Accident: Legitimacy Claims and Democracy Promotion in Authoritarian Central Asia. International Political Science Review, 27(3), 263–84.
Shiraishi, M. (2000). The Structure of the Vietnamese State [ベトナムの国家機構]. Tokyo, Japan: Akashishoten.
Simmons, A. J. (1976). Tacit Consent and Political Obligation. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 5(3): 274–291.
Tâm, B. (2017). The Cabinet’s Report to the National Assembly on Corruption Prevention [Chính phủ báo cáo Quốc hội về công tác phòng chống tham nhũng]. Retrieved from http://anninhthudo.vn/chinh-tri-xa-hoi/chinh-phu-bao-cao-quoc-hoi-ve-cong-tac-phong-chong-tham-nhung/747095.antd
Tansey, O. (2007). Process Tracing and Elite Interviewing: a Case for Non-Probability Sampling. PS: Political Science & Politics, 40(4), 765-772.
Thắng, X. (2016). Vietnamese Population Expected to Reach 92.7 Million with 2.27% Unemployment Rate [Dân số Việt Nam ước tính 92.7 triệu người, tỷ lệ thất nghiệp là 2.27%]. Retrieved from http://viettimes.vn/dan-so-viet-nam-uoc-tinh-927-trieu-nguoi-ty-le-that-nghiep-la-227-64198.html
Thayer, C. A. (2014). The Apparatus of Authoritarian Rule in Vietnam. In J. D. London (Ed.), Politics in Contemporary Vietnam (pp. 135-161). London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
The Economist. (n.d.). The Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index. Retrieved from https://www.
Tuyet, T. M. H. (2014). Demystifying Rural Vietnam: How well do you know Vietnam’s Rural Consumers? Retrieved from http://www.nielsen.com/apac/en/insights/reports/2014/demystifying-rural-vietnam.html
United Nations. (n.d.). Democracy. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/democracy
Vietnamnet. (2016). Reduce the Burden to State Budget by Reducing the 11 Million People on the State Payroll. [Bỏ biên chế để giảm gánh nặng 11 triệu người ăn lương nhà nước]. Retrieved from http://vietnamnet.vn
Voice of Vietnam (VoV). (2017). Complete Transcript of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam’s Speech at the Government’s Conference on December 28th 2017 [Toàn văn phát biểu của Tổng Bí thư tại Hội nghị của Chính phủ]. Retrieved from https://vov.vn/chinh-tri/dang/toan-van-phat-bieu-cua-tong-bi-thu-tai-hoi-nghi-cua-chinh-phu-712527.vov
Von Soest, C., & Grauvogel, J. (2015). How Do Non-Democratic Regimes Claim Legitimacy? Comparative Insights from Post-Soviet Countries. In K. Labusga (Ed.), GIGA Research Programme: Legitimacy and Efficiency of Political Systems No.277. Hamburg, Germany: GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien.
Weber, M. (2004). The Vocation Lectures. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing.
Wikisource. (2017). Constitution of Vietnam (2013): Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, (Chapter I, Article 6). Retrieved from https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Vietnam_(2013)