After the resignation of Vietnam’s president: Transitional woman at Vietnam’s top

Parliament cannot agree on a successor to the resigned President. Now the vice president remains.

Vietnam's Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan

Will Vietnam’s interim president, the previous vice president Vo Thi Anh Xuan Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Scanpix/picture alliance

BERLIN taz | In Vietnam’s National Assembly, the attempt to find a successor for the resigned President Nguyen Xuan Phuc to choose. The MPs could not agree on a candidate.

As a result, the 52-year-old Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan will be in charge of official business until a new election is held. Vietnam finally has a woman in one of the most important government offices, even if only as an interim solution.

The National Assembly had previously relieved President Phuc, who had resigned the day before, of his duties. The parliamentary session lasted significantly longer than announced, and journalists were excluded from the follow-up debate.

As the taz learned from well-informed circles in Hanoi, there is said to have been a fierce debate about the candidate To Lam, the interior minister. Ultimately, the domestic political hardliner was unable to assert himself, the resistance was too great.

Hardliner To Lam could not be enforced

It was probably not about that To Lam according to a judgment of the Berlin Court of Appeal in 2018 as the client of the illegal Kidnapping of Trinh Xuan Thanh 2017 from Berlin to Hanoi and that there may be a German arrest warrant against him. The deputies were rather suspicious that the four-star general, who had considerable criminal energy, was overdoing the anti-corruption campaign in Vietnam. This also targets innocent people who belong to a different political wing within the Communist Party than the interior minister.

To Lam was about to be dismissed as Home Secretary in 2021: During a visit to London, he had himself filmed feeding himself a gold-plated steak in a wickedly expensive restaurant, while many in Vietnam were suffering from the economic consequences of the corona pandemic. The price of the steak is said to have exceeded the monthly income of a Vietnamese minister, and suspicions of corruption were in the air. The BBC put the video online and it went viral in Vietnam.

The hardliner escaped his dismissal by presenting himself as an uncoverer of a corruption scandal surrounding corona tests, in which other leading politicians were involved. Last summer, To Lam also made itself unpopular by introducing a new Vietnamese passport that was not recognized internationally, making it worthless to holders.

With the South Vietnamese Vo Thi Anh Xuan, a pale but friendly female face is at the head of Vietnam’s state. The high school teacher and experienced local politician has been Vice President since 2021. She is particularly concerned about women’s rights. As far as can be seen, she has kept out of wing fights, which are mainly fought by men’s rope teams.

The fact that she was elected Vice President in 2021 is also due to the fact that this position has been reserved for a woman in Vietnam for years. Until 2021, the much more influential position of a speaker of parliament was also occupied by women. However, the men’s unions no longer considered that much of a women’s quota necessary.

Until when Vo Thi Anh Xuan takes office depends on when the men agree on a successor. The question at stake is whether the trend will continue, with more and more men surging from the security apparatus into the management ranks, where economic competence and liberal tones are crowding out.

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