Perhaps a literacy certificate is enough, at a time when a university diploma or votes cannot help you enter the Syrian People's Assembly. The secret behind winning elections is receiving senior officials’ satisfaction!
Representing the people in parliament is one of the highest positions in the state. The People's Assembly in Syria is supposed to represent legislative and oversight authority, but this role remains theoretical, especially since the Baath Party took power in 1963.
The Baath Party and its supporters in the National Unity list, won 177 seats out of 250 in the elections that were held a few days ago, while the Supreme Constitutional Court is still examining the submitted election appeals.
Parliament elections are a piece of theatre with brokers as its protagonists!
“The Syrian regime preoccupies people with running for the People's Assembly and the elections play. As for choosing the winners, it is up to the intelligence services and senior officials,” according to lawyer Fahad al-Moosa.
Meanwhile, the Syrian regime’s allies and Syrian loyalists, see in the People Assembly's elections an image of democracy, and a political victory over "terrorism" and its sponsors.
Al-Moosa told Rozana that "the criteria for selecting the winners vary from loyalty to blind submission, mastery of hypocrisy and flattery, in addition to being rich and paying bribes."
Al-Moosa pointed out that the MPs have turned into brokers working for senior officials and heads of security branches and intelligence officers, to make deals and obtain privileges that go beyond the law.
Boxed lists and dead voters
The departments of the Syrian regime and its security agencies choose ready-made electoral lists, under the name of the National Unity list that are composed of candidates from the Baath Party and its allies. These lists include about two-thirds of Parliament members, leaving the remaining seats to the independents.
Al-Moosa pointed out that "the Syrian regime leaves the matter between independent candidates to compete in order to monitor the shift of its popular base through controlling the presence of loyal candidates."
The director of the Syrian Center for Press Freedoms, Judge Ibrahim Hussein, said on his Facebook page that "the ballot boxes are always inflated with votes attributed to citizens who did not vote and some of them had died years before the elections."
Hussein wondered: "Do any of you believe that Khalid Ibn al-Walid, along with Ibn Al-Muqaffa, Gibran Khalil Gibran and Elias Farhat visited Al-Hasakah governorate and voted?"
Syrians also confirmed that the names of their relatives were included in the voters' lists in the last elections, despite the fact that they have been detained in the prisons of the Syrian regime for years.
Secrets and intentions behind partisan domestication processes
This year, the People's Assembly elections witnessed the heresy of party domestication, according to which the Arab Socialist Baath Party chooses its candidates, through the vote of the Baathists themselves.
This approach was not supported even among the partisan circles, as a number of party members considered that the experience did not produce the best results.
In an article published in Al-Baath newspaper, Maan Al-Ghadri stated that “the domestication process did not divert from the thought of keeping alliances, blocs, cliques and regional gatherings, while the biggest loser is Syria, the party and the citizen alike," as he put it.
Journalist Ayman Abdel Nour also pointed out, in an article published by the Middle East Institute, that "the regime believed that partisan domestication can serve to test the popularity and tendencies of the candidates within the Baath Party, which has about two million members."
Abdel Nour indicated also that this practice “shows the extent of support that each candidate receives, and the vote’s base supporting him or her, i.e. Islamists, leftists, or conservatives."
He revealed that "after Al-Assad utilized the domestication method to observe the political positioning of candidates and voters, he cancelled it, saying that it would be used for evaluation purposes only. On 4 July, the Baath Party announced a list of candidates from various governorates, and included names that did not enter the phase of domestication in the first place."
Coronavirus hindered the voting process!
The percentage of voters in the last People's Assembly's elections, which were held on 19 July, 2020, did not exceed 33 percent of the total number of voters eligible to vote.
After the election results were released, the Minister of Justice in the regime’s government, Hisham Al-Shaar, said that the coronavirus pandemic had limited the number of voters due to the fear of contracting the virus, in addition to the fact that Syrians outside the country were not entitled to vote.
In an article published by The New Arab, writer Ratib Shabo expressed his surprise at the Syrian regime’s eagerness to hold the elections of the People's Assembly, saying: “Nothing is more ridiculous than the regime’s eagerness to hold the elections amid this tragic situation, as the Syrians everywhere are pushed towards famine.
"Nothing is stranger than bearing the costs of this play, while the public debt of the Syrian state is equivalent to 208 percent of the gross domestic product."
Shabo continued: "Perhaps you will not find one single person in Syria, either a loyalist, an oppositionist or a neutral voter, who believes that what happened is worthy to be referred to as elections, and the regime is aware of this, but it does not care, and will not bother to master the play or cover up the defects, as Al-Assad believes that the damage has already been done."
MPs imposed by war, and familiar faces excluded from Parliament
It was surprising that the businessman, Mohammad Hamsho, who is close to Maher al-Assad, Bashar al-Assad’s brother, withdrew from the elections two days before their launch, which sparked speculation, most notably about the role of Asma al-Assad in excluding Hamsho.
Hamsho's withdrawal was followed by a similar announcement by Omar Ossi, a Kurdish MP from 2012, who also walked out of the elections.
In his article at the Middle East Institute, Abdel Nour indicated that the regime insisted on excluding Kurdish leaders, such as Ossi who was forced to withdraw from the elections race, while the other popular Kurdish politician, Tarif Qoutersh, lost, and replacing them with names of insignificant political experience.
Two other candidates were selected to replace the Kurdish leaders, namely Abd Al-Rahman Khalil from Al-Hasakah, and Ismail Hajo from Raqqa, both of whom belong to the Communist Party allied with the Baath, according to Abel Nour.
Meanwhile, the Aleppo MP and President of the Federation of Chambers of Industry, Fares Al-Shihabi, lost the elections while competing with the businessman, Hussam al-Katerji, whose star shone during the war.
After losing the race, Al-Shihabi said that the corruption mafia, warlords and ISIS sponsors inside Syria are plotting against him.
After losing the elections, head of the Youth Party for Building and Change, Parveen Ibrahim, criticized the Baath Party, describing it as an exclusionist party that manages the Syrian state as a farm owned by its leaders.
Legal loopholes that open door to tampering with election results
Article (8) of the elections law provides for the formation of a higher judicial committee for elections. However, the Legal Agenda stated that this committee is not truly neutral or independent, because the majority of its members are from the Baath Party.
According to the magazine, as al-Assad heads the High Judicial Council, which controls the appointment, promotion and dismissal of judges, this committee cannot be trustworthy.
The law also granted the governor, who is appointed by the regime, the right to form the election committee, and this enables the authorities to control the electoral process and its results.
The magazine pointed out that the law preserved in Article 20 the old division of each governorate as one electoral district except for Aleppo, which was divided into two districts.
This division will be challenging to some candidates who will not be able to cover the expenses of electoral advertising in the entire governorate and its countryside, which will give people with money and the regime’s lists the advantage to win the elections there.
The division of electoral districts into two sectors that include the workers, the farmers, and the rest of the population can lead to mixing these categories, which can easily pave the way for corruption. As such, a candidate who proves that he owns an agricultural land or a herd of sheep can be registered as a laborer or a farmer, according to the magazine.
Al-Badia ballot box, which has several names in the Syrian governorates, is considered as a turning point in the elections, as its fraudulent votes can determine the results of many independent candidates.
This ballot box that arrives at the end of the counting process can turn the scale in favour of the most influential person and those who paid more money.
Among the most prominent winners in the recent elections, Ahmed Al-Kuzbari, head of the regime's delegation for the Syrian Constitutional Committee, sponsored by the United Nations, director Najdat Anzour, and President of the Chamber of Industry of Damascus and its Countryside, Samer al-Debs.
It is noteworthy that the elections were held for the third time in Syria since 2011, except for the Autonomous Administration regions in eastern Syria and areas controlled by opposition factions in the north.