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Vietnam Communists Dominate Election Results


Communist Party candidates have been elected to more than 90 percent of the seats in Vietnam's National Assembly. The government announced the results of the May 20 election on Tuesday. Matt Steinglass reports from Hanoi.

There were 875 candidates running for 500 seats in last week's Vietnamese National Assembly elections. But the outcome was never in doubt.

Bui Ngoc Thanh, the head of the National Assembly's electoral council, announced that 91 percent of the 493 winning candidates were members of the Communist Party.

Thanh says the election reflected the Vietnamese people's confidence in the Communist Party's reformist economic policies, and the people's right to self-government.

Vietnam maintains a one-party system. The National Assembly has gained some influence since 1992, when a new constitution assigned it a greater role in government. Once a rubber-stamp body, it now debates changes to the law, and often questions government leaders.

In these elections, the government declared it wanted to broaden participation to more non-Party members, but Thanh says those efforts were disappointing.

He says the government had hoped to get 50 non-Party members as delegates, but only 43 were elected.

The nomination process was controlled by a powerful Communist Party-affiliated organization called the Fatherland Front. Almost all the candidates, including the non-party members, are nominated by the Party, or by mass organizations like the Women's Union.

In principle, Vietnamese citizens can run as "self-nominated," or independent, candidates. But such candidates face tough scrutiny. Hundreds volunteered, but only 30 made it through the pre-election approval process.

When the results were announced, it turned out that of those 30, only one had been elected.

Officials said 99.6 percent of Vietnam's voters cast their ballots in the elections. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung won his National Assembly seat, in the city of Haiphong, with 99 percent of the vote.