The politics of Vietnam takes place in a framework of a single-party socialist republic. A new state constitution was approved in April 1992, reaffirming the central role of the Communist Party of Vietnam in politics and society, and outlining government reorganization and increased market reforms in the economy. Though Vietnam remains a one-party state, adherence to ideological orthodoxy has become less important than economic development as a national priority.
The most important powers within the Vietnamese Government ? in addition to the Communist Party ? are the executive agencies created by the 1992 constitution: the offices of the president and the prime minister. The Vietnamese President, presently Nguyen Minh Triet, functions as head of state but also serves as the nominal commander of the armed forces and chairman of the Council on National Defense and Security. The Prime Minister of Vietnam, presently Nguyen Tan Dung, heads a cabinet currently composed of three deputy prime ministers and the heads of twenty-six ministries and commissions, all confirmed by the National Assembly. They were elected in 2002.
Notwithstanding the 1992 Constitution's reaffirmation of the central role of the Communist Party, the National Assembly, according to the Constitution, is the highest representative body of the people and the only organization with legislative powers. It has a broad mandate to oversee all government functions. Once seen as little more than a rubber stamp, the National Assembly has become more vocal and assertive in exercising its authority over lawmaking, particularly in recent years. However, the National Assembly is still subject to party direction. About 80% of the deputies in the National Assembly are party members. The assembly meets twice yearly for seven to ten weeks each time; elections for members are held every five years. There is a separate judicial branch, but it is relatively weak. Overall, there are few lawyers and trial procedures are rudimentary.
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is governed through a highly centralized system dominated by the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) (dang Cong San Viet Nam), which was formerly the Vietnamese Labor Party (1951-1976). The Socialist Republic of Vietnam exists today as a communist state.
The present fourteen-member Politburo, elected in April 2006 and headed by the re-elected Communist Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh, determines government policy, and its eight-person Secretariat oversees day-to-day policy implementation. Although there has been some effort to discourage membership in overlapping party and state positions, this practice still continues to a certain extent. Senior Politburo members such as Nguyyen Minh Triet, Nguyen Tan Dung, Nguyen Phu Trong, Le Hong Anh concurrently also hold high positions in the government and the National Assembly. In addition, the Party's Central Military Commission, which is composed of select Politburo members and additional military leaders, determines military policy.
A Party Congress, meets every five years to set the direction of the party and the government. The Tenth National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam opened on April 18, 2006 and concluded on April 25, 2006 was attended by 1,176 delegates.
The 160-member Central Committee, which was elected by the Party Congress, usually meets at least twice a year.