Southeast Asia: Elites vs. Reform in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam

Issue Date April 2012
Volume 23
Issue 2
Page Numbers 34-46
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Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos share a number of similarities: All three countries are former colonies of France located next to one another on the Southeast Asian mainland; all three witnessed the rise of communist parties to nationwide power in the mid-1970s; and all three have also seen fast-rising economic growth and falling poverty since the 1990s, and are viewed as undergoing a process of “reform” involving a shift from central planning to a market economy. Yet Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia remain bastions of illiberalism and one-party rule despite rapid economic growth and falling poverty. What will it take to reform their elitist political cultures and curtail the use of public office for private ends?

About the Author

Martin Gainsborough is a reader in development politics in the School of Sociology, Politics, and International Studies at the University of Bristol. His publications include Vietnam: Rethinking the State (2010) and Changing Political Economy of Vietnam: The Case of Ho Chi Minh City (2003).

View all work by Martin Gainsborough