World

Syria Kicks Off Presidential Campaign Amid Civil War

Bashar al-Assad is seeking a third term as Syria's president. The country's new election laws prevent exiled opposition figures from running.

Syria Kicks Off Presidential Campaign Amid Civil War
Flickr / James Gordan

While the brutal civil war rages in Syria, campaigning has began for the country's June 3rd presidential election.  

And for the first time in decades, the name Assad won't be the only name on the ballot. (Via Voice of America

That's because in March, Syria's parliament unanimously adopted a law allowing for multiple candidates. (Via The Times of Israel

But those candidates had to meet a long list of criteria — that included being a resident of the Syria for last decade, effectively disqualifying any of the exiled opposition figures. (Via PressTV)

Candidates also needed the support of 35 members of Syria’s parliament, conveniently led by President  Bashar al-Assad’s own party. (Via Euronews

That left just two men — both relatively unknown and who likely pose no serious threat to Assad. Despite a lack of reliable polling, there’s really no doubt among observers as to who will win. 

The New York Times reportsmany Syrians have stuck by [Assad], seeing him as a symbol of the nation or fearing that an opposition victory could lead to Islamist rule.”

Even with a war raging in his own backyard, Assad has been in campaign mode for weeks. He's seen here visiting with residents of the Christian village of Maaloula on Easter. (Via Channel 4)  

Now, the West and the Syrian opposition have denounced the election as a complete sham — an election guaranteed to bring only more of the same. But as a writer for Haaretz notes, should Assad win a third seven-year term, his re-election could have some big implications on the world stage.

“It would give Russia and Iran a formal excuse to support Assad as a president who was democratically elected by the people, thus solidifying their position against the Western demands to remove him.”  

The Los Angeles Times reports voting will only be held in areas under government control. The government hasn’t said how, or even if, it plans to carry out voting in rebel-held territory.

Under Syria’s election laws, those who have left the country illegally are barred from voting. That includes the war’s 2.5 million refugees.