04/20/2021, 16.04
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Damascus, a people made hungry by war and sanctions, to vote for the president

Elections are scheduled for 26 May. Victory assured for outgoing leader Assad, who has yet to formalize his candidacy. The High Court has so far admitted two challengers, excluding figures from opposition in exile. AsiaNews source: a vote that does not warm the hearts, the hope of an agreement between Iran and world powers on nuclear power.

Damascus (AsiaNews) - A vote with a "predictable" outcome, which has thus far failed to “warm the spirits of the Syrian population", more than ever worried about "surviving" in the face of a "now chronic lack of fuel," electricity and even bread”.

An AsiaNews source in Damascus speaking on conditions of anonymity for security reasons, describes the nation called to the polls next May 26 for the presidential elections. A passage, according to most, destined to confirm the current leader Bashar al-Assad already triumphant in 2014, during the bloodiest phase of the conflict and capable of maintaining the reins of power.

The head of a nation devastated by a decade of war and sanctions, should not encounter serious opposition although there is no lack of discontent in some sectors of the population plagued by a very serious economic, social and health crisis.

Now in power for more than 20 years since the death of his father Hafez, Bashar Assad has not yet formalized a participation which, however, seems obvious. The High Constitutional Court has already informed Parliament of two names, a former parliamentarian and a politician who had tried to compete in the 2014 vote but whose candidacy had been rejected.

Those entitled - opponents in exile are excluded, they must have lived in the country for at least 10 years to participate - must submit their candidacy by April 28, obtaining the support of at least 35 deputies out of the 250 in total in Parliament.

Voting will take place in regions under the control of the Damascus government, which account for about two thirds of the total. Syrians abroad will be able to vote on May 20 in the embassies of the host country.

In 2014, at the height of the war and with the Russian intervention at the gates, Assad had triumphed with 92% of the votes but his power seemed destined to crumble. The Kremlin troops (together with Iran, an ally of Damascus) averted defeat on the military level; however, what remains today is a country marked by violence, sanctions and an economic and commercial embargo which, at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, threatens to destroy the entire population.

In the last parliamentary elections, which were held in July last year, the ruling Ba'ath party and the allied formations (grouped in the "National Unity" coalition) won the majority, with 177 seats out of the total 250. Opposition groups refugees abroad had branded the vote as a farce. The United States also termed in fraudulent and a mock of democracy.

The AsiaNews source confirms the presentation of two challengers, but "they are not well known and do not appear capable of challenging" Assad's leadership. The vote "is of no great importance and not much talk about it in everyday life", also because more than the presidential elections "future international arrangements and the possibility of a vast agreement that will put an end to suffering count". "The people - he explains - just want a compromise between the parties that can put an end to the sanctions, the home front" with the names of the presidential candidates "unimportant: the widespread desire is to go beyond names and plot a new course for the future."

In this uncertain framework, concludes the source, "the possible agreement between Iran and the international powers on nuclear power, which we are all waiting for, assumes great importance. It - he warns - could have a positive effect also for Syria, which so far is paying the consequences. Even among Christians there is little interest in voting, because at the bottom the climate remains of mistrust and hope for the future is lacking. We really hope for an international agreement to end this conflict”.





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