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Vietnam legislative elections set for today

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Vietnam legislative elections set for today

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Photo: Reuters

Citizens of Vietnam will head to the polls today to elect Vietnam’s 15th National Assembly.

Of 868 candidates contesting the 500 seats, 74 represent independent parties, the rest belong to the ruling Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP).

Over the past decade the rubber-stamp National Assembly has become more of a forum for critical review of VCP policy, influenced by the different views of the independent deputies. In 2014 the National Assembly successfully passed liberal social reform legislation lifting a ban on same-sex marriages. In this election the 74 independent candidates represent a decline from 97 such candidates in the 2016 elections. Additionally, elected independent deputies have halved over the past three National Assemblies.

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Independent deputies in the National Assembly are key to maintaining diverse opinions in the government. As a response to their growing influence, VCP officials are discouraging independent candidates through violent persecution and censorship. Impeding independent deputies from entering the legislature will facilitate Vietnam’s government in implementing more conservative policies in the near future. Expect the new National Assembly to shift policy focus away from human rights and freedom of speech, which may damage Vietnam’s attempts to hedge closer to the U.S., to counter growing Chinese influence in the region.

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