Citizen Participation in Vietnam’s Local Government: Impact on Transparency and Accountability

Thai Thi Thanh Hoa, Jean-Claude Garcia-Zamor


Around the world, a growing crisis of legitimacy and complex problem solving characterize a sense of change in the state-citizen relationship. In Vietnam, the Doi Moi (renovation) process was carried out by the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and the Government of Vietnam (GoV). Public institutions engaged at grassroots level by implementing a decree on “Regulation on Democracy Exercise” with the vision of a participatory society to improve the living standard of the Vietnamese people in general in order to enhance public service specifically. This article conceptualizes the concepts of Citizen Participation, Transparency, and Accountability in Vietnam. In the contested debates of the link between citizen participation and the two governance aspects, transparency and accountability, the article realizes the importance of achieving the balance from both sides of practice, as well as strengthen institutions that can reduce inefficiency and have real effectiveness. The fact that Vietnam just embarked on experimenting with policy initiatives encourages stronger citizen participation. Importantly, citizens participate in a number of elections for their delegates to local and national legislatures. One specific characteristic of public participation in Vietnam is that citizens somewhat are limited in participation by the nomination procedures and restriction in institutions. The article as a brief literature review on citizen participation and establishes the linkages between these three concepts. It reviews policy mechanisms for citizen participation and central-local power relationship. It stresses two main findings after performing sufficient empirical evidences. First, it argues that citizen participation can be an engine of good governance in local public institutions in Vietnam. Once policy window provides the population some space for their participation, it assures a widening scale of an efficient governing system. It founds that transparency and accountability of local governments are two outcomes of citizen participation.

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