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Promoting socialist democracy and ensuring the people’s right to mastery

Democracy is the nature of our socialist regime. It serves as the goal and incentive of socio-economic development. At the same time, it is the way that our people exercise their power to manage the State and organise the social life. Bringing into play socialist democracy and ensuring the people’s right to mastery have been sufficiently mentioned in the Draft Political Report for submission to the 13th National Party Congress as a consistent viewpoint of our Party.

Grasping Marxist-Leninist viewpoints on the position and role of the masses in each nation’s development process, Ho Chi Minh pointed out that democracy means that the people are masters and the people exercise their right to mastery. That definition by the President clearly shows the people’s position and their responsibility within the social life. The people’s responsibility has been designed and included in our Constitution and legal system. It is protected and enforced in reality. With reference to human rights, democracy is an important attribute of human rights and it is a burning desire of generations of people. Building, consolidating and promoting socialist democracy in Vietnam are aimed at satisfying that desire of our people and it is the nature of the country’s political regime, which has been established since the inception of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (the present-day Socialist Republic of Vietnam) on September 2nd, 1945.

Grounded in the general evaluation on consolidating and building the national great unity block, promoting socialist democracy, and ensuring the people’s right to mastery as well as in the Platform on National Construction in the transitional period towards socialism (supplemented and developed in 2011), the Draft Political Report for submission to the 13th National Party Congress has presented fundamental viewpoints, task and solutions for promoting socialist democracy and ensuring the people’s right to mastery as follows.

1. We should continue to complete regulations on exercising democracy under the Platform on National Construction in the transitional period towards socialism and the Constitution of 2013, and effectively, practically realise direct democracy, representative democracy and grass-roots democracy so that “the people will know, the people will discuss, the people will do, the people will inspect, the people will supervise, and the people will enjoy.” Representative democracy is popular in our country and it is included in all-level political systems’ mechanism of operation, particularly at state level, while direct democracy is exercised at grass-roots level. Hence, it is extremely vital to concretise direct democracy, representative democracy and grass-roots democracy under the Party’s Political Platform and the Constitution of 2013. At grass-roots level, due attention has been paid to exercising democracy soon by our Party and State. On February, 18th, 1998, the 8th Politburo issued the Directive 30-CT/TW on building and implementing the Regulation on Grass-Roots Democracy. On April 20th, 2007, the 11th National Assembly’s Standing Committee promulgated the Decree on exercising democracy at commune level. The outcome of those documents has helped reduce bureaucracy and negative practices at grass-roots level, gather the people’s strength, consolidate and develop the national great unity block, and increasingly promote the people’s right to mastery. The building of life at grass-roots level over the years has been a visible manifestation in institutionalising and realising the motto: “the people know, the people discuss, the people do, and the people inspect,” while the policy on “the people supervise and the people enjoy” has been gradually implemented. Doing so has allowed us to improve the people’s material and mental life, add an incentive to the national great unity block and bring into play the people’s synergy and creativity for a reform in Vietnam’s political system. However, there have been a number of weaknesses in exercising grass-roots democracy. The people’s right to mastery is sometimes violated as evidenced by the complex developments in collective complaints. 70 of the complaints have been related to land dispute and this issue has not been effectively settled by all-level authorities. Moreover, a section of cadres, party members and officials have not really respected the people’s opinions and recommendations and they have not opportunely satisfied the people’s legitimate benefits and aspirations.

To protect democracy and really promote the people’s right to mastery, it is necessary to continue concretising, reviewing, supplementing and perfecting regulations on building and bringing into play democracy in general, grass-roots democracy in particular. Over the time, at grass-roots level, there have been several forms of direct democracy; however, there should be a sustainable and effective road map for gradually enhancing direct democracy. It is possible to trial a number of models and we should undertake theoretical and practical researches so that we could apply direct democracy widely across the country. By adopting direct democracy correctly and properly, we could make the people’s inspection and supervision more effective and develop a purer, stronger political system, while democracy and the people’s right to mastery could be more firmly protected and more effectively promoted. With a socialist-oriented market economy, wide and deep international integration, and robust development of information technology, we should place greater emphasis on direct democracy as it is the clearest manifestation of the people’s supreme power over all aspects of the social life. Therefore, any regulation and action by political and politico-social organisations that violate the people’s right to mastery will become barriers to the exercise of democracy.

2. Organisations within the political system and all cadres, party members, and officials should play an exemplary role in exercising democracy, observing law and heightening morality. The Party’s guidelines and the State’s law and policy must provide a political, legal foundation for the people to exercise democracy. The political system under the Party’s leadership must respect, sustain and defend the people’s right to mastery. Democracy must be institutionalised and practically exercised. More specifically, democracy must be included in Vietnam’s Constitution and legal system. At grass-roots level, there must be appropriate regulations on democracy within residential areas. To build, consolidate and promote socialist democracy, first of all, we must start with democracy within the Party. Without ensuring democracy within the Party, we are unable to bring into play democracy within the society. Thus, party members and cadres within the political system must play an exemplary role in exercising democracy and ensuring the people’s right to mastery. A State performs its ruling function of a class. In our country, the State manages and serves the people. In this regard, the Government as the highest-level administrative body of the state power must creatively formulate and successfully implement national policies under the Party’s guidelines and the National Assembly’s resolutions.

Promoting socialist democracy also depends on the exemplary role of cadres, party members, officials and members of all organisations within the political system. Party organisations, other organisations and each member of the political system must have responsibility to set role models. More importantly, key cadres must take specific, practical actions that set a good example. They must avoid staying away from the people and committing bureaucracy, bossiness and corruption. They must always educate and mobilise the people. They must not follow all opinions from the masses. It is essential to fight against the demagogic, deceitful signs and the pursuit of petty benefits as they are barriers and enemies of democracy.

The people have been assigned to be masters of the country by our socialist political regime; therefore, there should be policies to raise the people’s awareness of their right to mastery. Democracy always expresses the material core of the political regime of a country. In other words, it demonstrates social progress and nature. That material core is harmoniously formed by various factors. Our Party as the ruler that takes the greatest and ultimate responsibility within society must always renew and rectify itself to meet the task requirements and deserve to be the leader and servant of the people.

3. We should heighten the people’s central role in the strategy for national development and in the whole process of national construction and protection. Also, we should promote the people’s politico-social enthusiasm, knowledge, rights, and responsibility in the Party building and rectification, in the building of a Socialist Rule-of-Law State, Fatherland Front and politico-social organisations, and in the building of a contingent of party members, cadres and officials. The people are masters of the country, they occupy the central role in power, and all powers belong to them. Therefore, it is essential to encourage the people to take part in building the political system and institutions to ensure and bring into play their right to mastery. This issue has been expressed in our country’s Constitution and law, the Party’s directives and resolutions as well as politico-social organisations’ regulations. It is necessary to continue reviewing and concretising those documents so that the people will more actively participate in formulating the Party’s guidelines, the State’s law and policy and regulations of the Fatherland Front and politico-social organisations. All operations by party members, cadres and officials must be placed under the people’s close inspection and supervision; therefore, it is important to create a favourable condition for the people to take part in this important work. The strength of organisations within the political system and the robustness of party members, cadres and officials depend on the people’s strength. Disregard and perfunctory effort for the mass mobilisation work as well as irresponsibility for the people will lead to far-reaching consequences. According to President Ho Chi Minh, “the masses know how to distinguish between sincerity and deceitfulness and they know many things that all-level leaders do not know.” Nowadays, the General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong affirms that we must rely on the people and listen to their opinions; we must be resolved to do what the masses welcome and support at any rate; we must determinedly prevent and deal with what the people hate and oppose, while strictly settling violations; the people will place their faith in our regime and Party if we can win their hearts and minds; losing the people’s faith, we will lose everything. 

4. We should opportunely, stringently punish those who take advantage of democracy to undermine politico-social stability or violate democracy or destroy the people’s right to mastery. It is a must to ensure the people’s right to mastery in all political, economic, cultural and social fields; however, democracy must be associated with discipline. Discipline is the manifestation of true liberty within a healthy society. There is nothing to compare democracy and dictatorship. Democracy is not absolute liberty and it must be under certain control and social principles. Freedom of thought and action must be in accordance with inevitability and objective reality. Going against rules and communal, national conventions will negatively impact on liberty of other people and the entire society and deprive oneself of individual liberty. Hence, we must criticise the anti-democratic signs, such as “anarchistic freedom” and “undisciplined freedom.” President Ho Chi Minh ever mentioned the relationship between the right to freedom and truth: “ours is a democratic regime and our thought must be freed; everyone could freely express their opinion to seek the truth and that is a right and duty of everybody at the same time; when all people have voiced their opinions and managed to find out the truth, the right to freedom of thought will become the right to obey the truth; truth is something good for the Homeland and the people; what goes against the benefits of the Homeland and the people is not the truth; to whole-heartedly serve the Homeland and the people is to comply with the truth.”

Currently, in our country, democracy is being expanded, sustained and promoted. However, the development of information technology, the Internet and social networks is both negatively and positively impacting on the manifestations of human liberty and democracy, particularly in cyberspace. The hostile forces and political opportunists are exploiting freedom and democracy to incite a number of people to take part in operations against our democracy that is being built, consolidated and developed. Thus, in addition to promoting socialist democracy, we must prevent organisations and individuals from taking advantage of democracy to destroy our national great unity block. Democracy and the right to freedom of speech must be associated with civic responsibilities and obligations. Doing so will create a favourable condition for us to ensure democracy and defend the legitimate interests of residential communities.

The 13th National Party Congress will be a meeting of the entire Party, Military and people with the highest level and greatest concentration of democracy. With the recorded achievements, the Party will continue effectively promoting socialist democracy to make contributions to sustaining the people’s right to mastery in the Homeland construction and protection.

Prof. MACH QUANG THANG, PhD

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To thoroughly carry out the preparatory work for, and successfully conduct the 13th Party Congress, leading the country to a new phase of development
The entire Party, people and armed forces shall unify in hearts and minds, join forces to carry out thoroughly the preparatory work for, and successfully conduct the 13th National Congress of the Party, leading the country to a new phase of development with the goal of “prosperous people, powerful, democratic, just and civilised country”, successfully fulfilling the heartfelt wish of great President Ho Chi Minh and the desire of the entire nation.
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