Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad was re-elected Thursday (27) for another seven years as head of the country, in an expected result – the opposition boycotted the vote and most of the international community did not recognize the legitimacy of the election.
Assad won 95.1% of the vote in Wednesday’s poll (26), against 1.5% for former minister Abdullah Salloum Abdullah and 3.3% for Mahmoud Ahmad Marei, a member of one of the few parties to opposition tolerated by the regime. With the victory, the dictator will have his fourth term as president of the country.
The announcement was made by Speaker of Parliament Hammouda Sabbagh, an ally of Assad. According to him, 14.2 million people voted in the election, a turnout of nearly 78%. Syria does not have an independent electoral body that can attest to the veracity of the figures and the entry of international observers has not been allowed.
Nonetheless, the result indicates an improvement in figures for Assad, who in the previous election, in 2014, received 88.7% of the vote. Despite this, he was far from the record set by his father, also dictator Hafez al-Assad, who has always stood for election as the only candidate and repeatedly won 100% of the vote.
Although in practice the result does not change the political configuration of the country in any way, the regime is expected to use the electoral victory to try to show the rest of the world that it has finally overcome the ten years of war. civil, in addition to ethnic conflicts. After the announcement, fireworks were set off in the capital, Damascus, and people took to the city streets to celebrate. So far, there is no trace of acts of protest or violence in areas opposed to the regime.
Syria has one of the most authoritarian dictatorships on the planet and occupies the last places in international rankings that measure the quality of democracy – out of the record 51 candidates who registered to run in the 2021 elections, 48 have been excluded.
Assad has chosen the fight against unemployment as the main motto of his campaign, promising that there will be work for everyone in rebuilding the country.
During the vote, the approximately 12,000 polling stations were adorned with photos and images of the dictator, who also monopolizes state media. According to the Qatari TV channel Al Jazeera, outside of these places, Assad supporters have carried out actions to attract voters and celebrate the regime.
In an attempt to increase turnout, the regime has organized large rallies in support of the dictator in recent days, and officials have been ordered to vote.
In this scenario, the governments of the US, UK, France, Italy and Germany said in a joint statement Wednesday that the election was “neither free nor fair.” The group called on the regime to allow the UN to hold the vote and allow all internally displaced people to participate in the country – some 11 million people have had to flee their homes as a result of the current conflict. The regime did not agree to any of the requirements.
“As a state, we don’t care about these announcements. The value of these opinions is zero, “the dictator said in response to the five countries after voting the fourth in Douma, a city on the outskirts of Damascus.” Syria is not what they [as potências ocidentais] they try to make believe, one city against another, one tribe against another, or a civil war, ”he added.
In 2018, Douma was the scene of a chemical weapons attack that killed at least 50 people, and the action is suspected to have been taken by the regime – the affair has led Paris, London and Washington to order a bombing in retaliation.
This is just one of the allegations of war crimes or crimes against humanity hanging over Assad, in power since 2000. He took the head of the country after the death of his father, Hafez, who had taken over. control by a coup in 1970 and spent the next three decades as dictator.
Bashar al-Assad, who is a doctor, was seen as a reformer within the regime, and his rise was initially hailed by the West, which saw it as a chance for openness. The situation changed in 2011, when protests against the dictator erupted in the midst of the Arab Spring and, subsequently, the civil war. The conflict has claimed more than 350,000 lives in a decade, destroyed the country’s economy and infrastructure and plunged 90% of the population into poverty.
Despite this, the dictator managed to stay in power – in large part thanks to the support of Russia and Iran, who act as international guarantors of the regime.
The current scenario is therefore quite different from that at the start of the war, when the Syrian leader came to see his command post threatened after his troops lost ground to both pro-democracy rebel forces and the United States. ‘Islamic State.
Military reinforcements from Tehran and Moscow, however, ensured the survival of the regime, which has gradually reclaimed the lost area and currently controls around 70% of Syrian territory.