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Thoroughly grasping and well handling relationship between practice of democracy and consolidation of legislation - social discipline assurance

Thoroughly grasping and managing major relationships in the Party’s renewal policy represent a matter of urgency and importance. Notably, the relationship between “practice of democracy and consolidation of legislation - social discipline assurance”  has been supplemented by the 13th National Party Congress in the national development period of 2021-2030.

1. Democracy and discipline are in a dialectical relationship without any conflict

The relationship between “practice of democracy and consolidation of legislation - social discipline assurance” supplemented by the 13th National Party Congress originates from a clearer perception of the matter of principle in social management that "democracy" comes with "discipline," and "freedom" is inseparable from "responsibility." This lesson has been drawn from the research and review of social management in our country over the years. In the essence of the socialist regime in our country, democracy and discipline are the two unifying sides of a reasonable healthy social mechanism. In other words, a real democracy itself contains discipline and vice versa; discipline is to ensure a solid democracy. Therefore, conceptually, it is necessary to adhere to the dialectic of this relationship. On the one hand, the effective practice of democracy requires the rule of law to be strengthened and social discipline to be guaranteed; on the other hand, to consolidate legislation and ensure social discipline, it is essential to exercise a true broad and appropriate democracy. It is also important to fight against authoritarian, patriarchal, “anarchical” and excessive democracy.

On the basis of dialectical thinking of this relationship and preeminent features in the nature of our national political system, the Party’s guidelines and the State’s policy and law are realised by the people’s concrete actions. The Party’s willpower matches with the people’s hearts, which is a manifestation of democratic thinking and national discipline. Typically, when dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam is perhaps the only country where the Party, the State, and every citizen have shared the spirit of “fighting the pandemic is like fighting the enemy.” In social distancing, the people have promoted democracy to implement different measures for pandemic prevention and control. This proves that true democracy is associated with national discipline under the orientation of the Party and the State. Thanks to its success in pandemic prevention and control, in 2020 and during the early months of 2021, Vietnam was among the few which had experienced a positive growth rate. This highlights a complete contrast with the democratic approach of individual freedom in many countries including the developed ones with their modern healthcare system. When state regulations are overwhelmed by anarchical and individual freedom, the pandemic goes beyond control, leading to a serious socio-economic crisis.

2. Raising the quality of  practising democracy, consolidating legislation, and ensuring social discipline

Our Party clearly states that “the people’s right to mastery is sometimes violated, there are still manifestations of formal democracy and a separation between democracy and discipline and law,” “State’s law is sometimes overlooked.” Therefore, in order to well handle this relationship, it is vital to both practice democracy and strengthen discipline.

The practice of democracy requires a thorough grasp of Ho Chi Minh’s ideology: the people as the masters and the people’s right to mastery. In this regard, the former refers to the people’s social status while the latter mentions the people’s responsibility. “It is essential to continue concretising and perfecting the institution of democratic practice in the spirit of the 1991 Platform for national construction in the transitional period towards socialism (supplemented and developed in 2011) and the 2013 Constitution to ensure that all state powers belong to the people. It is also significant to effectively conduct various forms of representative and direct democracy, especially at grass-roots level.”

Democracy at grass-roots level, which guarantees the people’s mastery in the area where they live and work, is expressed in institutions, implemented or reflected in reality. Accordingly, it is necessary to thoroughly grasp and strictly execute the 8th Politburo’s Directive 30-CT/TW, dated February 18th, 1998 on formulating and implementing the Grass-Roots Level Democracy Regulations, the 11th National Assembly Standing Committee’s  Ordinance 34/2007/PL-UBTVQH11, dated April 20th, 2007 on exercising democracy at commune level. Emphasis should be placed on promoting the people’s mastery and encouraging the people’s participation in State management in order to tackle deterioration, bureaucracy, loss of democracy, corruption and wastefulness. Matters related to the people’s lives must be reported to the masses.  Moreover, all projects relating to mobilisation of the people’s strength must be discussed, decided, inspected, and supervised by the people. Due attention should be paid to fighting against violation of the Ordinance on Democracy, persecution of complainants and accusers, and exploitation of democracy to infringe on national security, social order and safety, the State’s interests as well as the legitimate rights and interests of organisations and individuals.

It is vital to ensure that “the people know, the people discuss, the people do, the people inspect, the people supervise, and the people enjoy benefits.” Supplemented by the 13th Party Congress, “the people enjoy benefits” is a new important issue and aimed at ensuring the effective practice of democracy as the people are the subjects that reflect the nature of democracy. Supervision and enjoyment are arranged as the last elements with a view to encouraging the role of mastery and democracy in the society and creating a strong driving force for democratic development in the society. These elements also reflect the degree and nature of the most effective democracy, while helping maintain substantive democracy for building, consolidating and bringing into full play the great national unity block.

In terms of consolidation of legislation and social discipline assurance, discipline is the expression of literal freedom in a healthy society. Democracy does not go with dictatorship and does not mean absolute freedom. True freedom is the perception and action based on the inevitable, which means thinking and acting in accordance with the law of nature and society. If people go against the law, they not only adversely affect the freedom of the whole society but also lose their own freedom. Discipline must be associated with law, which is in the management of the socialist rule of law State of the people, by the people and for the people with law being the supreme in our society. Currently, the Communist Party of Vietnam is the ruling party; therefore, the legislation in the society is the institutionalisation of the Party's Platform, viewpoints and guidelines. The Party’s ruling is authorised by the people; more specifically, people trust and give the Party the right to lead the political system and the whole society. The birth, existence and operation of the Party does not serve its own sake but the interest of the revolution, the Fatherland and the people. Accordingly, law must guarantee the interests of the people. Hence, it is necessary to opportunely build a complete, stable, synchronous, uniformed, feasible legal system. Greater importance should be attached to ensuring the legitimate rights and interests of the people and businesses as the basis for innovation, creativity, and sustainable development as well. It is also vital to keep building a professional, modern, fair and integral Vietnamese judicial system to serve the Fatherland and the people. Law making must be closely linked with law enforcement. Due regard should be paid to effectively preventing and combating crime and violations of law, promptly, legally handling all kinds of disputes and complaints as well as enhancing the legal accessibility of citizens and enterprises.  

3. The practice of democracy must be in line with consolidation of legislation and social discipline assurance

The reality shows that many limitations, complicated problems, especially corruption, wastefulness and bureaucracy emerge from the administration of the State apparatus. Besides, social chaos is caused by contradictions and conflicts. All these issues result from a lack of synchronous practice between democracy and discipline. Therefore, "practice of democracy in line with consolidation of legislation and social discipline assurance" is to fully practise socialist democracy. At the same time, it is necessary to strengthen social discipline and strictly comply with legal provisions as the basis for a balanced society, the people’s happiness and the country’s sustainable development.

The 13th Party Congress has conveyed the thoughts and actions of the whole Party, the whole political system, cadres, party members, public servants, and the armed forces to set good examples of democracy practice, obey laws, and uphold social ethics. Democracy and social discipline go hand in hand to uphold the central role and position of the people in the strategy of national development, construction and defence and to promote the people's intelligence, rights and responsibilities in the construction of the Party and the political system. Therefore, democracy must be exercised inside the Party first, otherwise there will be no democracy in the society. Cadres, party members and members of the political system must be servants of the people. The State must serve the people and transform itself into public services. The Government as the ultimate state administrative body must encourage decentralisation, clearly define responsibilities between the central Government and ministries, branches and local authorities, avoid overlapping functions, tasks and powers, ensure uniformed State management, and promote the proactive, creative role of authorities and sectors associated with the power control mechanism.

Under the Party's  discipline and the State's law, organisations and individuals taking advantage of democracy to disrupt socio-political stability and violate democracy and the people’s right to mastery must be promptly, strictly punished. Consideration should be given to resolutely preventing and combating negative practices, "self-evolution," "self-transformation," and distortions of the essence of our democracy, social discipline, and socialist system selected by our Party, Uncle Ho and people.

Thoroughly grasping and properly handling the relationship between "practice of democracy and consolidation of legislation - social discipline assurance" require concerted efforts from the entire Party, the people and the Military in order to promote the strength of the great national unity block and realise the aspiration for a prosperous and happy country with the goals specified by the 13th National Party Congress.

Prof. MACH QUANG THANG, PhD – NGUYEN DUY TIEN*, PhD
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* - Political Academy, Ministry of National Defence

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