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How a Socialist Country’s Transition Towards a Market Economy Impacts Political Reform: The Case of Vietnam


The purpose of this study was to examine how Vietnam’s transition to a market economy has affected its socialist political system.

After the U.S-Vietnam war, the reunification of both parts of the country under the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) led to the implementation of socialist transformation in the south.

Vietnam soon realized the inefficiencies of the command economy, but under the influence of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, both in ideology and in material assistance, Vietnam did not dare to single-handedly break away from socialist ideas.

However, the Soviet Union’s glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) reforms, started in 1985, opened the way for Vietnam to officially đổi mới (renovate) in 1986.

When the CPV foresaw that the Soviet Union’s simultaneous economic and political liberalization would lead to chaos, at the 6th Party Congress in 1986 the CPV emphasized the importance of social and political stability while opening up to a market economy.

Although many scholars have argued that economic liberalization would eventually lead to a capitalist multi-party system, the transition to a market economy and international integration in the last 32 years has in fact helped Vietnam become the most dynamic economy in East Asia.

Improved inclusive development has generated more social and political stability, which in turn has been helping the CPV to consolidate its power.

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