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Campaigning for Syrian presidential elections to begin


Campaigning for Syrian presidential elections to begin

Photo: AFP

Candidates for the Syrian presidential election will begin campaigning today. 

The Syrian higher constitutional court—a body appointed by incumbent President Bashar al-Assad—approved two other candidates to stand against Assad in the May elections. Former minister Abdallah Salloum Abdallah and state-sanctioned opposition member Mahmoud Marei are largely viewed by critics as extensions of the current regime and are not expected to mount a meaningful challenge to Assad. A law requiring a 10-year recent residency minimum has barred the exiled opposition leaders who pose the biggest threat to the current administration from the ballot. Compounding the lack of real opposition, the only countries allowed to observe the electoral process are Assad-allies including Russia, Iran and China.

Assad will almost certainly legitimize his expected victory through measures to offset poor living conditions like raising state salaries, regulating the deteriorating Syrian pound and pardoning petty criminals. Expect Western members of the UN Security Council to respond by condemning what they view as a sham election. In the long-term, the West will likely push to overhaul Syria’s constitution and electoral process in accordance with UNSC resolution 2254. However, in the short-term, the West is only expected to have an impact in the humanitarian sphere. 

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