Vietnam's top officials to face annual confidence votes in parliament
Vietnam has passed a new law requiring top elected officials including the prime minister to win the support of parliament in annual votes.
From next year top officials, from the president to Supreme Court judges, would have to face an annual confidence vote at the 500-member communist-dominated National Assembly, the official Vietnam News Agency said.
Officials who do not win more than 50 percent of the vote for two consecutive years would be asked to step down from their positions, the report said, adding that the results would be made public.
But experts say the confidence vote is unlikely to be more than a symbolic gesture as real political and decision-making power rests with the Communist Party and not parliament.
The new resolution came a week after Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung faced down an unprecedented call from a lawmaker to resign. Dung told parliament last week he would stay in his position as long as the Communist Party asked him to.
The 62-year-old former central bank governor escaped punishment at a key party meeting last month over a string of scandals that have tainted the country's leadership.
But in an attempt to deflect increased criticism, the party issued a rare self-rebuke and Dung apologised for corruption, inefficiencies and major losses at state-run giants such as shipbuilder Vinashin.
The growing pressure comes as Vietnam grapples with slowing economic growth, resurgent inflation, falling foreign direct investment and increased fears about toxic debts in the fragile banking system.
"I think there has been a lot of movement to make the National Assembly more open, more interesting and more competitive, but all of this serves a role for the current leaders," said Eddy Malesky, associate professor of political economy at Duke University. "These institutional changes are real and important, but they always emerge because of elite disagreement. After their creation, they have real meaning and you will see political actors use them. But there is always a real underlying power relationship that generates these types of advances."
Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg