The politics of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam are defined by a single-party socialist republic framework, where the President of Vietnam is the head of state and the Prime Minister of Vietnam is the head of government, in a one-party system led by the Communist Party of Vietnam. Executive power is exercised by the government and the President of Vietnam. Legislative power is vested in the National Assembly of Vietnam (Vietnamese: Quốc hội). The Judiciary is independent of the executive. The parliament adopted the current Constitution of Vietnam; its fourth, on 15 April 1992, and it has been amended once since then.
The Communist Party of Vietnam is the ruling political party of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam according to the current Constitution (amended in 2013). The legitimacy of the Party is guaranteed by Article 4 of the Constitution, which states that “The Communist Party of Vietnam […] is the force assuming leadership of the State and society”.
Every five years, the Communist Party holds a National Congress, with the latest one taking place in January 2016. Participants include all members of the Central Committee and representatives from local levels. Important functions of the National Congress are:
- Evaluate the results of past terms.
- Set the guidelines and policies of the Party in the next 5-year term.
- Elect the new Central Committee
- Make additions and amendments to the Political Platform and Charter of the Party if necessary.
After decisions are ratified, the National Congress is dissolved and the new Central Committee implements the decisions of the National Congress for a 5-year term.
The Central Committee is the key authority within the Party, which currently has 180 full members and 20 alternate members. Membership of the Committee usually includes high ranking officials at both central and local levels such as President, Prime Minister, Chairman of the National Assembly, deputies to these positions, Ministers and the equivalent, Deputy Ministers of key Ministries such as Public Security and Defense, provincial Party Chiefs and all other important organs of the Party and the State.
The Committee implements the decisions made by the National Congress regarding important matters of the nation including both internal and external affairs.
The Central Committee elects the Politburo, the Party’s General Secretary and the Party’s Secretariat.
The Central Committee also nominates candidates for key positions, including Chairman of the National Assembly, President and Prime Minister, who are then approved by the National Assembly.
The President (Chủ tịch nước) serves for a five-year term and acts as the commander-in-chief of the Vietnam People's Armed Forces and Chairman of the Council for Defence and Security. The government (Chính phủ), the main executive state power of Vietnam, is headed by the Prime Minister, who has several Deputy Prime Ministers and several ministers in charge of particular activities. The executive branch is responsible for the implementation of political, economic, cultural, social, national defence, security and external activities of the state. The National Assembly is a unicameral legislative body. The National Assembly has 500 members, elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. The legislature is, according to the Constitution, the highest organ of the state. Its powers include the enactment and amendment of the Constitution and laws; the adoption of the government budget; supervising the Government of Vietnam and other holders of public powers responsible to the National Assembly; and appointing members of the judiciary. The Vietnamese Constitution and legislation provide for regular elections for the office of the President of the Socialist Republic, the National Assembly and the People's Councils.
According to the Constitution, Vietnam has an independent judicial system and legislative branch under the National Assembly. The Supreme People's Court (Tòa án Nhân dân Tối cao) is the highest court of appeal in Vietnam. There are other special courts in Vietnam, including the Central Military Court, the Criminal Court, the Civil Court and the Appeal Court. The Supreme People's Procuracy monitors the implementation of state organs and ensures compliance with the law.