State and state structure
Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao (People’s Democratic Republic of Laos) – the official name of the country. Laos is a people ‘s democracy with a socialist orientation. The People’s Republic was proclaimed on December 2, 1975 by the former leader of the Communist Party and first Prime Minister Kaysone Phomvihane with the abolition of the monarchy and the absolute claim to leadership of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LRVP).
The state motto is “Peace, Independence, Democracy, Unity and Prosperity”.
The Prime Minister (Thongloun Sisoulith) as head of the government, his current three deputies (Dr. Bounthong Chitmany, Dr. Sonexay Siphandone and Somdy Duangdy), the President of the State Planning Committee, the Foreign Minister, the Deputy President (Phankham Viphavanh) and the Council of Ministers are appointed by the President for a period of 5 years. The National Assembly must approve the appeal. The ministries report to the Prime Minister.
The constitution was adopted in 1991 and amended in 2003. Opposition parties and movements are prohibited. The population is under strict control of the LRVP and is characterized by socialist structures, ie trade unions, youth organizations and associations exist as an alternative to the officially banned parties. However, the party leadership retains control over these organizations. Only the official mass organizations such as trade unions, women’s associations, youth associations and official farmers’ associations are legal.
In addition to the Supreme Court, there are military courts at the provincial and district levels. Existing laws are only being implemented inconsistently, and there is little legal certainty. International cooperation programs support, among other things, strengthening legal certainty. Attempts are made to include the existing ” Customary Law “, which characterizes social action in many parts of the country. Arbitration is very important in the event of a conflict.
The national assembly, elected by the people, has 149 members and constitutes the legislature. According to businesscarriers, most of the members of the national assembly are either members of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LRVP) or proposed by it. They are elected by the people in secret and direct elections for a period of 5 years.
The election for the current National Assembly for the 8th legislative period took place in March 2016. The official turnout was 97.9 percent – approximately 3.73 million people voted. The members of the new National Assembly were elected from 211 candidates. The number of seats was increased from 132 to 149 to accommodate population growth. About a quarter of the new members are women.
The previous Vice President Bounnhang Vorachit was elected as the new President of the country by the National Assembly on April 20, 2016. At the party conference in January 2016, he had already assumed the office of party chairman. In Laos, these two offices traditionally coincide.
The country can be divided into three regions: Northern, Central, and Southern Laos. Administratively, Laos is divided into 17 provinces (Khoueng) and one government province (Khampeng Nakhon). The former military special administrative region of Xaisomboun (Khet Piset) was assigned to the provinces of Vientiane and Xiang Khouang in 2006 and has been a separate province since the end of 2013. The provinces are each divided into districts.
Laotian People’s Revolutionary Party
The only party in the country, the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LRVP) has its origins in the Communist Party (CP) of Indochina. Its founding father is Kaysone Phomvihane, who founded the party in 1955 and headed it until his death in 1992.
Since the victory of the revolutionary forces on December 2, 1975, the party has been claiming sole leadership. This is guaranteed by the constitution, which was drawn up with the support of the former GDR.
The party enforces its decisions through an 11-person Politburo. With Pany Yathotou, for the first time since the party congress in 2006, a woman has also been a member of the Politburo.
The executive body of the Politburo is the 69-member Central Committee.
10th Congress – January / March 2016
At the 10th party congress in January 2016, the then party chairman Choummaly Sayasone and the then Politburo members Thongsing Thammavong (Prime Minister) Asang Laoly and Somsavat Lengsavad (both Vice Prime Ministers) did not stand for re-election to the Politburo and the Central Committee.
Choummaly Sayasone handed over the chairmanship to the newly elected party chairman Bounnhang Vorachit.
The following were elected as new Politburo members:
- Bounnhang Vorachit
- Thongloun Sisoulith
- Pany Yathotou
- Dr. Bounthong Chitmany
- Dr. Phankham Viphavanh
- Mr Chansy Phosikham
- Dr. Xaysomphone Phomvihane
- Lt. Gen. Chansamone Chanyalath
- Dr. Khamphanh Phommathat
- Dr. Sinlavong Khoutphaythoune
- Dr. Sonexay Siphandone
What course is Laos’ new Prime Minister taking?
The Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, who has been in office since 2016, is making a name for himself. He takes strict action against corruption, tackles the enormous drug problem in Laos, and the ban on exporting timber from Laos (May 2016) seems to be successful. Thongloun maintains international relations, represented Laos competently at the UN General Assembly as foreign minister for many years (2001-2016), openly names the current problems and can admit that some of them can only be solved with international support.
“Undoubtedly more outward-looking than his predecessors, these places Thongloun as an essential figure at a time when Laos can no longer turn away from globalization”, says David Hutt in his article ” Is Laos’ New Leader Really a Reformer ?” (The Diplomat, April 26, 2017)
And yet there is no political commitment in Laos to improve the human rights situation. Sombath’s disappearance has still not been resolved after more than six years, and freedom of expression is still suppressed and severely punished, even online.
“His goal, in essence, is to save the Communist Party from itself. Only through purging the Party of its excesses can it avoid a confrontation with the people […]. He understands that the political status quo can only be maintained through.” change “, Hutt concludes his article.
Suthichai Yoon, former co-editor of the Thai newspaper The Nation, conducted an interview with the Lao Prime Minister in 2017, in which the two of them talk quite openly about current political decisions.