Laos Politics in the 1970’s

Laos Politics in the 1970's

On 23 August 1975 the pro-communist forces of the Pathet Lao formally took control of the entire country; but at the head of the national government remained a coalition presided over by the neutralist prince Souvanna Phouma, which also included the moderate current of Prince Souphanouvong. On 2 December of the same year, King Savang Vatthana abdicated and the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos was proclaimed, the presidency of which was assumed by Souphanouvong, while the office of prime minister was entrusted to Kaysone Phomvihane, secretary of the Laotian People’s Revolutionary Party. The ideological direction of the new leadership led, in July 1977, to the signing of a twenty-five-year treaty of economic and military cooperation with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the rupture of relations with the countries of the Western bloc, and, in particular, with France accused of protecting and helping opponents of the regime. In domestic politics, the introduction of a planned economy resulted in the implementation of the first five-year plan 1976-81, which gave partially positive results: alongside a growth in GNP, there was an increase in agricultural production, especially rice., despite the backwardness of production systems and the lack of machines and fertilizers, while the introduction of collective land ownership proved to be a failure and was abandoned in the mid-1980s.

In many areas of the country there was a strengthening of the National Liberation Front of the Laotian people, set up in September 1980 with the aim of restoring the monarchical regime; in August 1982 a democratic government of the Laos was born in Bangkok led by the former prime minister Phoumi Nosavan and in which all the forces hostile to the communist regime entered.

In January 1983, according to itypeusa, a government reshuffle saw the downsizing of the role of some historical figures of the revolutionary movement in favor of the ” technocrats ”, who were gaining increasing weight in an attempt to remedy the disastrous economic system. On the international scene, the Vientiane government, while continuing to privilege relations with Hanoi and Moscow, re-established diplomatic relations with China on November 30, 1987 after years of bitter controversy due to the support provided by the Beijing government to the pro-Chinese faction. of the Pathet Lao. The normalization of relations between the two countries was sanctioned by the meeting, in October 1989, between Kaysone Phomvihane and Deng Xiaoping. On 29 October 1986 Phoumi Vongvichit became President of the Republic in place of Souphanouvong,

In November 1986, the 4th Party Congress reconfirmed Kaysone as general secretary and prime minister and voted to adopt a program of economic reforms that put an end to the statist model inaugurated after 1975.

The return to market mechanisms was marked by the establishment of joint ventures, the competition between public companies and the introduction in the countryside of a system based on family responsibility and the free sale of agricultural products. The new economic policy launched by the government tended to accelerate development through greater dynamism in relations with Western countries and especially with Thailand and Japan. Success was particularly evident in urban areas, while the countryside was barely touched by increased prosperity. From this point of view, Kaysone Phomvihane’s trip to Japan in November 1989, the first market economy country visited by a leader of the Laotian regime starting from 1975. Relations with the United States also improved, so much so that at the end of 1989 the Washington government concluded an agreement with the Laotian one for the granting of a loan of 9 million dollars.

In March 1989 the first elections in the history of the communist Laos were held. These elections led to the formation of a new National Assembly whose political strategy was still elaborated by Kaysone. He initiated a “ social-Buddhist perestroika ” in order to face both the growing activism of anti-government organizations, in particular the Lao United Front for Liberation, and the widespread discontent of the population for the always precarious economic situation and for the refusal to any hypothesis of multi-party and democratic openness opposed by the management group.

Two years later, the 5th Party Congress made major changes to the policy. In August 1991, the first constitution of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic was enacted. This confirmed the leading role of the Laotian People’s Revolutionary Party (single party) and entrusted executive power to the president, elected by the National Assembly for five years. Kaysone Phomvihane was elected president of the Republic (replaced as prime minister by Khamtay Siphandone), while some historical leaders of the revolutionary movement such as Prince Souphanouvong and Phoumi Vongvichit left the scene. On November 21, 1992, Kaysone Phomvihane died and his successor was appointed Nouhak Phoumsavan, president of the National Assembly and number two of the regime.

In December 1992 the new National Assembly was elected which in its first session, held between 20 and 25 February 1993, confirmed Phoumsavan as president and Siphandone as prime minister.

Laos Politics in the 1970's