3 October 1971: Nguyễn Văn Thiệu Re-elected as President of South Vietnam

On 3 October 1971, Nguyễn Văn Thiệu ran for re-election as President of South Vietnam. However, his reputation for corruption during his previous tenure as President made his political opponents believe the poll would be rigged. Consequentially, they declined to run, with his only opponents, Nguyễn Cao Kỳ and Dương Văn Minh, withdrawing from the race after months of campaigning. (The video below shows Kỳ and Minh making speeches as early as June 1971).

Nguyễn Cao Kỳ and Dương Văn Minh making electoral speeches from as early as June 1971.

As the only candidate, Thiệu was thus easily re-elected, receiving 94% of the vote on an 87% turn-out, a figure widely held to be fraudulent by American and South Vietnamese journalists alike. As can be seen by the CIA report on Thieu’s re-election made on 22 July 1971, the American government had little prior knowledge of Thiệu’s intentions to run a biased election, citing his good chances of winning on being “well organised,” cultivating “key constituencies” and having “a reasonably firm grip on the whole machinery of government.” Having said that, the report does make note of Thiệu’s failure to encourage viable political opponents and that he was not well liked throughout the Republic of Vietnam government. The report, however, seems to dismiss these misgivings as unimportant and largely matter of fact.

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