Prior to the French conquest, the political institutions of Vietnam were patterned after the Chinese model. Confucianism was the state ideology, and the emperor ruled with the assistance of mandarins—scholars trained in Confucian principles. That system was essentially discarded during the period of French colonial rule, although the Vietnamese emperor was still permitted a figurehead authority from his imperial palace in Hue. After the division of the country in 1954, the North established a Soviet-style Communist regime, while the government in the South created a parliamentary system patterned after those in the West. Neither became a practicing democracy. The Communist system of the North was extended to the entire country after reunification in 1976. Modern Vietnam has a unitary system of government with a strong central government, and exclusive power resides with the Vietnamese Communist Party, the sole legal party in the state.
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