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Syrian Parliament Elections: Modest Turnout, Lack of Confidence

Syrian Parliament Elections: Modest Turnout, Lack of Confidence

Monday, 20 July, 2020 - 09:15
Bashar and Asma al-Assad in one of the polling centers in Damascus on Sunday, July 19, 2020 (AP)

Damascus has never experienced a state of indifference in the parliamentary elections as that seen on Sunday.

This comes in light of the completely exhausted political, economic, and social conditions.

Despite the large banners hung all over the streets for wealthy candidates, people were not urged to vote.

More than 1,600 candidates, many prominent businessmen, were competing for 250 MP seats in the third such election since the conflict erupted in 2011.

News on bombings, deaths due to the coronavirus pandemic, poverty, high prices, and horrific crimes for theft have dominated the Syrian scene.

In the last polls in 2016, turnout stood at 57.56 percent of 8.38 million voters, official figures revealed at the time.

Observers expected the rate to be much less this for many reasons, the most important of which is the lack of confidence in the ability of the parliament and the government accused of corruption to end people’s suffering.

In a country where more than 80 percent of people already live in poverty, the World Food Program has warned that Syrians are now facing an “unprecedented hunger crisis.”

In May, the UN food agency stated that 9.3 million people, more than half the population, are “food insecure.”

The economic crisis has worsened in recent months new US and EU sanctions on the regime, and the Caesar Act imposed in June and is considered the harshest measure taken against Syria.

In the town of Douma, in the eastern suburbs of Damascus where a fierce army offensive snuffed out insurgents in 2018, candidate banners hung in front of piles of rubble, collapsed rooftops, and buildings pockmarked with bullets.

Dozens of people crowded a polling station where a portrait of a smiling Assad covered a wall, Reuters reported.

No surprises were expected in the vote that marked Assad’s second decade in power, with no real opposition to the ruling Baath party and its allies.

However, the Syrian National Coalition, an opposition bloc based in Turkey that had Western backing, called it a “theatrical election by the Assad regime” with millions uprooted or in exile.

In Daraa governorate, sources reported that unknown persons had bombed a polling center in Busr al-Harir Municipality building.

This coincided with two blasts Saturday in the Syrian capital, in which one person was killed and another wounded, state news agency SANA said, on the eve of the country's third war-time parliamentary polls.

It said “one person was killed and another wounded in the explosion of two devices near Anas bin Malik mosque” in the Nahr Aisha area of southern Damascus.

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