Syria has set a date for its upcoming presidential election — not that it matters.
When Syrians head to the polls June 3, their options will be limited. That is, if they exist at all. (Via Press TV)
After all, he does seem to have a knack for campaigning — winning a stunning 97 percent of the vote in 2000 and a whopping 98 percent in 2007. (Via Eretz Zen)
Then again, that's not much of a feat when you're the only one running. Bashar al-Assad, like his father before him, has always run unopposed. But this year, things — at least in theory — could be different.
In March, Syria's parliament unanimously adopted a law allowing for multiple candidates on the ballot. (Via The Times of Israel)
Which sounds like a great step toward free and fair elections — except when you consider that virtually any challenger from Syria's opposition would be barred from running.
Under the law, candidates must be born to Syrian parents, have only Syrian nationality, and — here's the rub —they're required to have lived in Syria for the past 10 years. Members of Syria's main opposition group are currently based outside the country. (Via Flickr / Syriana2011)
Oh, and lest we forget, anyone who wants to challenge Assad needs the backing of at least 35 lawmakers from Assad's own party. (Via Euronews)
And consider, as The Christian Science Monitor notes, Syrians that live in opposition-held parts of the country won't be able to vote. Same goes for the nearly 3 million people who have fled the country.
Opposition groups have called the upcoming election a "parody of democracy" and have hinted it could undermine efforts to negotiate a peace settlement.
But Damascus doesn't seem to mind. Foreign Policy's David Kenner writes this election couldn't come at a better time for Assad. "Supporters … see the election as a way to underscore that the political structures dominated by Assad are still in place, and have survived the three-year insurgency."
Meanwhile, journalists on Twitter had fun with the very notion of an election organized by the Assad regime featuring a serious challenger whose last name wasn't Assad.
Of course, it's no laughing matter for the millions of Syrians whose lives have been ripped apart by the now-three year long war — which began, by the way, as peaceful protests against Assad's rule. (Via ITN)