Vietnam Briefing: The First Openly Gay Candidate Running For Election

Trinh Huu Long
Trinh Huu Long

The Vietnam Briefing, which is released every Monday morning Vietnam time, is a look at Vietnam’s political developments of the past week.


That’s it. The election is here.

This is the last briefing before the general election on Sunday, May 23. Candidates spent the last week busying themselves with voter meetings and media campaigns.

Changes in the final list of candidates: After the extensive vetting process and the finalizing of the list of candidates, the National Election Council made a few changes last week with three candidates removed from the list. The Council announced that those who had been removed had all filed to withdraw from the candidacy themselves, which had had been accepted by the Council.

  • Among them is the prominent case of Nguyen Quang Tuan, the director of Hanoi Heart Hospital, officially due to “physical conditions and other reasons.” He is reportedly involved in a corruption probe relating to the hospital during his time as director of the hospital.

A candidate to pay attention to: Luong The Huy is one of nine self-nominated candidates who survived the vetting process and made it to the final list in the National Assembly election. He is also running for a seat on the Hanoi City’s People’s Council. Huy, 33, a leading civil society activist and gender expert, has already made history by being the first openly gay candidate to run for election in Vietnam.


Nguyen Phu Trong talks about socialism

On Sunday, Vietnam’s state media simultaneously published an 8,000-word essay about the country’s path to socialism written by the top political leader: Nguyen Phu Trong, the secretary-general of the Communist Party.

Main message: As usual, Trong has only three points to make: denouncing capitalism and democracy in the world, delegitimizing the opposition, and justifying Communist rule in Vietnam as a regime truly “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” He also promoted the “socialist-oriented market economy” and “socialist democracy” to emphasize how significant it is that the VCP continues to take the role of leading the country.

What’s missing? Although published one week before the election, the essay provided no account of multiparty, free and fair elections, while insisting that “democracy is the nature of the socialist regime.”

Nothing new. The Party’s top leader usually has to play the role of the leading voice in philosophy and theoretical issues. The secretary general often gives speeches and publishes essays and books discussing the issues, proving he is philosophically knowledgeable enough to lead the Party and the country to the ultimate goal of socialism. Trong is even more than a party leader. He’s spent almost his entire career as the Party theorist and previously served as  the chair of the Party’s Central Council for Theoretical Studies, the top think tank that influences its platform.


Learn more about Vietnam

Vietnam’s tug of war with China over Laos

The Diplomat/ Nguyen Khac Giang/ May 12, 2021

“Hanoi’s geopolitical survival is also linked to Laos. Vietnam has land borders with only China, Cambodia, and Laos. Given the complex history and perpetual distrust of Beijing’s intentions, forming a unified ‘Indochina’ political bloc to safeguard against possible northern encroachment has always been a priority in Hanoi’s strategic thinking. The last time they failed in the late 1970s, North Vietnam had to fight wars on both sides of the country and was on the brink of total collapse. In addition, since China’s support for Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government has drawn Cambodia securely into its orbit, Vietnam cannot afford to lose Laos.”

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Trinh Huu Long

A journalist and democracy advocate at @luatkhoatapchi and @thevnmesemag magazines. He's also a co-director of Legal Initiatives for Vietnam, a nonprofit organization that runs The Vietnamese.