The National Assembly is comprised of 498 members and formally appoints the President and other heads of state. Power is generally thought to originate with the Communist Party and the 100-member Central Committee, however. This committee appoints the 15-member Politburo every 5 years, and this group is considered the most powerful political entity in the country and the source of all legislation. While legislation issued by the Politburo traditionally passed the National Assembly with no dissent, there has been more debate over it in the Assembly in recent years.
Though the country is formally Communist, the economy has been liberalized to some degree and has incorporated capitalist elements. Though the economy began to transition away from central planning starting in 1986 and presently allows free trade and foreign investment and encourages foreign tourism, the government maintains tight control over political expression. Suppression of political dissent and religious freedom by the government has consistently been an issue in the country. The treatment of certain ethnic minority groups such as the Montagnards and H'mong has also been a human rights issue for Vietnam's government.Learn more about Foreign Laws