This article by Tessa Weal is published by The Diplomat. Here is an excerpt:
Unlike its counterpart in China, the ruling Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) has not felt the need to banish popular U.S.-based social media platforms from its domestic internet. In fact, Vietnam is home to the seventh-largest population of Facebook users in the world. Yet the party has been able to maintain control over the digital sphere with alarming efficacy. Online dissent is strictly punished, thousands of pro-government commentators shape prevailing narratives, and users’ activities are intensely monitored.
These tactics have been on full display ahead of the May 23 legislative elections, resulting in flagrant abuses against users and growing pressure on international platforms.
In many ways, the elections are nothing more than the ritual reaffirmation of a decades-old political monopoly. The VCP is the only party allowed on the ballot. Although some independent candidates have been permitted to run, they are subject to vetting by a VCP-controlled body. In the 2016 elections, this resulted in the disqualification of over 100 would-be candidates, including many prominent civil society activists, and the VCP was awarded 473 of the 500 seats in the National Assembly. Vietnam’s score of 18 out of 100 in Freedom House’s Election Vulnerability Index reflects this low level of political rights and high likelihood of repression, as well as the tightly controlled online sphere.
Read the full story here.