November 15, 2014 / 10:04 AM / in 3 years

Vietnam PM wins broad backing in rare confidence vote

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung attends the 17th ASEAN-China Summit during the 25th ASEAN Summit in Naypyitaw November 13, 2014.Soe Zeya Tun

HO CHI MINH CITY (Reuters) - Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung sailed through a parliamentary confidence motion on Saturday, boosting his clout within the ruling Communist Party just over a year ahead of a shake-up of the country's top leadership.

Dung won "high confidence" votes from 64 percent of the national assembly, with only 14 percent giving his performance a "low confidence" rating, suggesting he may have weathered the storm from a series of economic setbacks and rumored internal challenges during his second term in office.

The vote on 50 top officials was a rare public show of scrutiny and only the second of its kind in a country tightly controlled by one party for nearly four decades.

Though lawmakers are nearly all members of Dung's party, he received a lukewarm rating in a censure last year that divided the house, reflecting fissures in a party traditionally led by consensus.

Dung's term ends at the 2016 party congress. But he is expected to groom a like-minded successor to pursue an overhaul of the underperforming economy and secure foreign trade deals to boost a thriving manufacturing sector that is attracting investment from firms like Microsoft Samsung and Intel.

Experts had anticipated Dung would fare better this year after pushing reforms of banks dogged by bad debt and starting restructuring and partial privatization of an inefficient state sector.

After growing 5.42 percent in 2013, the economy has been expanding faster this year. Third quarter annual growth quickened to 6.19 percent from 5.42 percent in the second quarter and 5.09 percent in the first three months.

The consumer price index rose 2.25 percent in September from December 2013, the slowest year-to-date pace in a decade.

Central bank Governor Nguyen Van Binh also improved on last year, with a nearly 65 percent approval rating, while President Truong Tan Sang won high-confidence votes from 76 percent of the house.

Sang was the top performer last year with 66 percent full support, compared to Dung's 42 percent. Dung last year received the lowest rating from about one third of the assembly.

Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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