Political Evolution in South Viet Nam

August 23, 1967

Report Outline
Test of Democracy in South Viet Nam
Foreign Influence in Viet Nam Politics
Political Highlights Since World War Ii

Test of Democracy in South Viet Nam

Presidential and legislative elections in South Viet Nam, scheduled to take place on Sunday, September 3, are not likely to produce any startling changes in that country's complex yet rudimentary political structure. The army will be the dominant social and political force in South Viet Nam after the election, as it is now, and democracy will need more time to take root in a country unaccustomed to representative government. All the same, the elections are regarded as supremely important by both Saigon and Washington; the winning presidential ticket will have a legitimacy that the ruling military junta, which came to power through a coup d'etat, has never entirely acquired.

South Vietnamese and American officials hope that voters will turn out in large numbers on Sept. 3. No less than 82 per cent of five million registered voters went to the polls in the September 1966 election for a Constituent Assembly. Registration for the Sept. 3 elections may reach a total of close to six million.

The importance of the elections to America's future commitment in the Viet Nam war has been brought into sharp focus in Congress. The United States should consider withdrawing from South Viet Nam if elections cannot be freely conducted there, several influential senators of both parties said in speeches on Aug. 11. The previous day, 57 liberal House Democrats had asserted in a joint letter to President Johnson that a serious reappraisal of U. S. policy in Viet Nam would be in order if the ruling junta in Saigon permitted only “sham” elections.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Vietnam War
Feb. 18, 2000  Legacy of the Vietnam War
Dec. 03, 1993  U.S.-Vietnam Relations
Mar. 18, 1988  Vietnam: Unified, Independent and Poor
Jul. 06, 1984  Agent Orange: The Continuing Debate
Nov. 04, 1983  MIAs: Decade of Frustration
Mar. 11, 1983  Vietnam War Reconsidered
Oct. 21, 1977  Vietnam Veterans: Continuing Readjustment
Jan. 18, 1974  Vietnam Aftermath
Feb. 21, 1973  Vietnam Veterans
Jun. 09, 1971  Prospects for Democracy in South Vietnam
May 06, 1970  Cambodia and Laos: the Widening War
Jan. 07, 1970  War Atrocities and the Law
Jul. 02, 1969  Resolution of Conflicts
Apr. 17, 1968  Reconstruction in South Vietnam
Aug. 23, 1967  Political Evolution in South Viet Nam
Jan. 11, 1967  Rural Pacification in South Viet Nam
May 26, 1965  Political Instability in South Viet Nam
Mar. 25, 1964  Neutralization in Southeast Asia
Apr. 17, 1963  Task in South Viet Nam
Jun. 14, 1961  Guerrilla Warfare
May 17, 1961  Threatened Viet Nam
Sep. 23, 1959  Menaced Laos
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific
U.S. at War: Vietnam