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HomeAsiaLaos’ Communist Party Faces Challenges in Fighting Corruption — Radio Free Asia

Laos’ Communist Party Faces Challenges in Fighting Corruption — Radio Free Asia

Corruption is often viewed as a side effect of a political system, but in many authoritarian states, it is actually the primary way of operating. To maintain unity in a political structure, various methods are employed. Fear, like that instilled by the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, can ensure compliance. Common goals, whether ideological or existential, can also unite individuals. Transactional practices, such as those found in meritocracies, can incentivize cooperation.

In some cases, corruption, referred to as “rent-seeking” by academics, plays a significant role in holding the hierarchy together. Low-ranking officials in provinces adhere to superiors in the capital due to their involvement in patronage networks. This system of loyalty in exchange for financial gain creates a sense of shared purpose throughout the structure.

In countries like Vietnam, corruption has historically helped maintain unity within the ruling party. However, as the party shifted away from socialist ideals and faced challenges from within, anti-corruption campaigns became necessary. By reinstating socialist ideologies and centralizing power, leaders like Nguyen Phu Trong have attempted to combat corruption within the system.

Contrastingly, neighboring Laos has struggled with anti-corruption efforts due to factors such as weaker central control and dynastic politics. Powerful families within the LPRP benefit from corruption, making it difficult to enact meaningful change. While public protests and organized resistance have pressured the Vietnamese government to address corruption, Laos has not faced the same level of opposition, allowing corrupt practices to persist.

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