Pursuing Constitutional Dialogue within Socialist Vietnam: The 2010 Debate
18 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2012
Date Written: October 10, 2012
This article tells the story of the constitutional debate that took place in 2010, as it was reported in state-owned newspapers. This analysis relies on John Gillespie’s discussion of the rule of law in Vietnam as the analytical framework, and on Mark Sidel’s work on the constitutional amendment process in 2001 to better understand the scope of the debate. The analysis reveals three general characteristics of elite constitutional discourse in the 2010 debate. First, it blended elements of both the conventional rhetoric and liberal interpretations of the concept of a “law-based state.” Second, the intellectual environment of the elite in 2010, as reflected in popular media, were quite supportive of the separation of state powers, with three clearly-defined state organs – legislative, executive, judiciary – to balance and check one another. Third, the myth of the ‘democratic’ 1946 Constitution was revived as a significant talking point in order to justify the need for fundamental change in the structure of state powers. A close analysis of these characteristics has revealed the centrist and pragmatic nature of the constitutional discourse. Reformers within the country are clearly attempting to cope with the constraints of political boundaries while trying to push for reform.
Keywords: constitution, Vietnam
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation