Syria's ruling Baath Party has won a majority in the country's parliamentary election according to the result declared yesterday. The win for President Bashar Al-Assad was seen widely as unsurprising and expected through the questionable election process held over the weekend.
Assad's Baath and allied candidates who ran under the National Unity list won 177 out of 250 seats. The head of Syria's electoral commission, Samir Zamreeq, said that any candidate not satisfied with the result "is entitled to submit his complaint within three days" starting from today.
With over 7,000 polling stations set up throughout regime-held territory across much of the country, the voter turnout was just 33 per cent, a sharp decrease on the 57 per cent turnout in the 2016 election. This was despite reports of the regime's loyalist militias – the shabiha – assaulting and forcing people to vote in areas such as the eastern province of Deir Ez-Zour.
A total of 1,658 candidates stood for parliament. The poll has been condemned as fraudulent and mere theatrics aimed at presenting a democratic face to the international community.
The US, for example, dismissed the election as "stage-managed" and "unfree", with State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus saying earlier this week: "The Assad regime carried out rigged parliamentary elections yesterday and the vote was neither free nor fair. Syrians and the world aren't fooled by this latest example of Assad's corruption and repression."
Syria's opposition in exile also condemned the election as fake and "illegitimate". A member of the opposition committee at the UN peace talks in Geneva, Yehya Aridi, told the German DPA news agency that, "The regime chose the candidates, even the independent ones, and it elected them." He stressed that the people in Syria did not have the freedom to vote. "This was a theatrical play by the regime."
Syria's elections have been criticised over the years for their wildly convenient results that have seen the Assad family win by a majority rarely seen in democratic elections around the world. In 2014, for example, Assad won almost 90 per cent of the country's votes; his father, former President Hafez Al-Assad – won 99.98 per cent of the vote in 1999.
Aside from the accusations of fraud, the latest election came amid an economic crisis caused by Lebanon's financial collapse, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the sanctions imposed by the US and other states, which have been strengthened by the recent Caesar Act passed by Congress in Washington.