The Syrians began electing their deputies on Sunday in a war-torn country near the economic wreck. For the first time since 2011, the vote will be held in former rebel castles.
This is the third parliamentary election in Syria since 2011, the beginning of a conflict that killed more than 380,000 people and caused the emigration of millions of people. 1,658 running candidates. More than 7,400 polling stations opened at 7 a.m. this morning in government areas.
Originally scheduled for April, the vote was delayed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic, which infected 496 people and killed 25 people in the region’s regions, according to official figures.
The Ba’ath party, which has been in power for half a century and is closely linked to the Assad clan, generally wins the hands of these legislative elections, organized every four years to elect 250 deputies, while the majority of opponents live in exile or in sectors such as flees into control of Damascus.
During the 2016 parliamentary elections, the proportion was 57.56% among the almost 9 million voters. But this year, millions of Syrians abroad, most of them refugees, will not be able to take part in the elections unless they return.
Economic and social issues dominate
According to the Election Commission, polling stations were installed for the first time in eastern Ghouta, a former rising enclave at the main gate. But also in reclaimed territories in the province of Idleb, the last great jihadist and rebel bastion in the Northwest, which remains in the regime’s sights.
Damascus has won victories in recent years thanks to the military support of Russia and Iran, until they regained control of more than 70% of the country fragmented by war, but today the candidates’ programs are dominated by economic and social issues, which especially promises solutions to rising prices and rehabilitation of infrastructure.
For several months, the economy has been in free fall with a historic depreciation of the currency. More than 80% of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the UN, a crisis is also exacerbated by the sanctions adopted by Washington in mid-June, on top of similar measures already introduced by the West.
No way out of the crisis
Twenty years ago, Bashar al-Assad, then 34, rose to the highest office after the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad. After three decades of undivided power from his father, “Bashar” embodied a hope for change. Twenty years later, his regime is treated as a secondment on the international stage.
Especially since after nine years of a deadly war, involving regional and international powers, no way out of the crisis is in sight. The next presidential election is scheduled for 2021.