This essay reviews Vietnamese politics in 2013 through the lens of the constitutional drafting process and the unprecedented confidence vote in the National Assembly. Both events were framed by the country’s ongoing economic struggles, elite political contestation, international integration, and a more informed public, fueled by an increasingly active blogosphere. The events foreshadow how future Vietnamese leaders can no longer rely on deep reservoirs of patriotism for legitimacy. Performance matters now more than ever.

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