There may be three candidates on the ballot but only one has any real shot at winning.
Bashar-al Assad is virtually guaranteed a resounding victory Tuesday. He's seeking a third seven-year term as Syria's president. (Via Flickr / watchsmart)
For the first time in some 50 years, Syrians will see more than one name on their presidential ballot thanks to new rules allowing for government-approved challengers. (Via CCTV)
But neither of the two additional candidates this year are expected to pull many votes away from Assad, who scored 97 percent in the last election. (Via Voice of America)
As a writer for The Guardian puts it: “It is not so much an election — everyone knows the result after all — it is more like a head count of government supporters.”
You see, the regime is touting the election as proof of a stable democracy, but the Syrian opposition and its Western allies say the vote is a far cry from free and fair.
Voting is only taking place in areas under government control, and election laws exclude regime critics from running. Nevermind the fact that it’s pretty tough to hold a credible election in the midst of a bloody civil war. (Via Euronews, ITN)
Opposition groups have called on their supporters to boycott the vote. (Via Twitter / @TonyTaieb)
The elections are clearly meaningless, says the director of the Organisation for Democracy and Freedom in Syria. He writes in The Huffington Post: “Any so-called 'independent' candidates are stooges of the regime, allowed to stand to give the appearance of democracy. This is not an election, but a foregone conclusion.”
The election has dashed hopes of ending the war through diplomacy. United Nations mediator Lakhdar Brahimi resigned shortly after the vote was announced. (Via Al Jazeera)
This, as Assad seems to be growing in confidence — his forces having made major military gains in recent months while rebel groups have fought among themselves. (Via Eretz Zen)
A professor of international relations at the London School of Economics told CNN the regime is using the elections to send a message: “It's a coronation of Assad, it's a celebration of his ability to survive the violent storm and basically go on the offensive.”
Syria is already claiming high voter turnout. Election officials from North Korea, Iran and Russia will be on hand to monitor the vote.