In Focus | The Syrian Regime’s Parliamentary Elections: Objectives and Implications
The Supreme Judicial Committee for Elections of the Syrian regime’s Ministry of Justice announced the results of the parliamentary elections amid the celebrations of regime supporters and affiliated media outlets on 21 July 2020.
According to the Ministry of Justice, less than 33% of Syrians allowed to vote participated in the elections, but these numbers as the other numbers related to these elections do not bear any credibility as the minimum standards for fair elections are not met. The elections are widely regarded as a formality that do not meet even the basic necessary formal standards.
Syrians living in the areas under Turkish influence and Syrian refugees living in various countries did not participate in the elections. Also no election centers were established in the Kurdish administration controlled areas which means that more than half of Syrian citizens did not participate in the elections.
The elections were held at a time when the regime lacks control over a third of Syrian land as well as Damascus losing a large percentage of control over decision-making processes to its Iranian and Russian allies. These allies are physically present in Syria and interfere in all details of daily life in the areas under regime control.
By holding these elections, the Syrian regime wanted to achieve several goals, namely:
1. Delivering a message to the general population and the states active in the Syrian file that the regime is capable of sponsoring the political process including the administration of elections.
2. Reinforcing the Syrian regime’s narrative, repeated since the outbreak of the popular protests, that the regime is simultaneously carrying out political reforms and countering terrorism. Holding the parliamentary elections aims at its core to demonstrate the margin assigned to the population to participate in government.
3. Attempting to present the regime as a cohesive state that continues its work despite the situation and that strictly observes its formalities.
4. Rewarding the pro-regime militia leaders and legitimizing their role in the country’s political institutions by including them into the People’s Assembly and incorporating them as political actors.
In general, these elections demonstrate that the regime’s security mentality has not changed, and that the regime’s allies talk of developing a political solution under the auspices of the regime and without making any changes to the rule of the security establishment indicates that these allies do not want to make actual concessions. These allies seek to impose solutions using military strength rather than compatibility which are short-term and unviable solutions.
Unit of Analysis and Thinking - Jusoor for Studies