The Communist authorities have approved only two of the one hundred self-nominated candidates that had hoped to stand for seats in the National Assembly election in May.
The other 98 independents that sought to challenge the party’s monopoly on power were all rejected during a vetting process designed to weed out government critics.
The two who were approved, during sessions organised by the Fatherland Front, are both Communist party members and directors of government backed research institutes.
Activists have expressed frustration at the nonchalant ease with which the government swept aside the attempt to mount an electoral challenge.
Most of the independents were rejected during the second stage of “public sessions” organised by the Front, in which they were confronted by neighbourhood citizens apparently selected for their loyalty to the government.
One prominent media figure known for his charitable work, Dr Tran Dang Tuan, did manage to receive unanimous approval during his public session and seemed set to be allowed to stand for a seat.
But he was then rejected out of hand at a meeting convened by the Fatherland Front to finalise the list of candidates.
Dr Tuan is a former deputy director of the state television network who won much acclaim for founding a charity that delivers food to disadvantaged ethnic minority children.
36 out of 39 candidates nominated by the Communist party, on the other hand, were selected and allowed to stand for seats in the election.
The results came as little surprise to most of the independents. Some said they had put their names forward to expose the fiction that the National Assembly election is a democratic process rather than a stage managed exercise to bolster the legitimacy of the political system.
One rejected candidate, the popular singer Mai Khoi, said she hoped to meet President Obama during his visit to Vietnam next month.
She said the Communist party clearly did not care about the wishes of the people and she wanted to find out how the United States could help promote a more pluralistic system in Vietnam.
Le Thi Kim Oanh, the Deputy Chair of the Hanoi Fatherland Front, sought to explain how the decisions were reached:
“Based on the imposed structure, the number of deputies designated (to each constituency) is limited,” she said.
“So frankly, we just can pick the tallest ones in the crowd. This does not mean that those who failed to be picked are not qualified,” she added
Oanh declined to provide details of the voting when the Fatherland Front met to finalise the list of candidates.
Activists protested that most of the constituents invited to attend the public sessions were old and did not reflect the diverse views of ordinary citizens.