The Syria Solidarity Movement applauds the Syrian people for their widespead participation in the first competitive election since the new Constitution approved in 2012. The voting by Syrians living or taking refuge in Lebanon was massive. Voting in Beirut needed to be extended by a full day. Similarly, the voting inside Syria on June 3, 2014 exceeded expectations and polls remained open until midnight to accommodate the huge numbers of Syrians waiting to vote.
Insurgents increased their shelling of civilian areas in Damascus and Aleppo but otherwise the election was conducted peacefully and without attacks on voting stations.
Within the past few hours, the Higher Judicial Committee of the Constitutional Court has reported the results:
15,840, 575 were eligible to vote, both inside Syria and outside.
442,108 ballots were disqualified, for irregularities. (3.8%)
11,634,412 voted (73.4%)
Results of the election were presented by the Speaker of the Parliament:
Dr. Bashar al Assad received: 10,319,723 votes, 88.7% of the vote
Dr. Hassan al Nouri received: 500,272 votes, 4.3% of the vote
Mr. Maher Hajjar received: 372,301 3.2% of the vote
We note the following:
1. The Syrian government was criticized for holding an election while armed conflict continues. However, in 1864, in the midst of the US Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said:
We cannot have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us.
The same holds true for Syria. The competitive election in Syria, replacing the previous one party referendum, was mandated by the new Syrian Constitution approved in 2012. Failure to hold the election would have violated Syrian law. They proceeded despite the difficulties, just as President Lincoln did long ago and others have done more recently.
2. The foreign powers who finance, arm and train the armed opposition denigrated the Syrian election, trying to stop it or to mold public opinion against it. The US Secretary of State and French Foreign Minister characterized the election as a “farce” which will “undermine” the prospects for peace. The irony is thick since the US, Britain and France have been heavily involved in fomenting the violent conflict. This was confirmed in June 2013 by former French Foreign Minister, Roland Dumas.
3. Millions of Syrians participated at over 9600 polling stations across the country. Tens of thousands inundated the Syrian embassy in Lebanon to vote and thousands more came from around the world to vote in Syria because their host countries denied them the right to vote at the local Syrian diplomatic mission. Looking at the photographs and videos taken during the election process, the enthusiasm and expressions of support for Syria and President Assad are hard to ignore or dismiss. That, plus the massive participation in the election, is precisely what opponents have not wanted the world to see.
4. The results of the election have just been announced, about 24 hours after the closing of the polls. It is no surprise that Bashar Al Assad has won the Presidency because for several years all credible polls, including by hostile organizations, have shown widespread popular support for him. We expect that future elections will be more closely contested, especially as more opposition party members win seats in Parliament in the next parliamentary election.
5. While voting could not happen in areas controlled by the rebels, that will have little impact on the results since the civilian population in those areas is very small. It is a fact that most civilians flee the urban and rural areas when the armed rebels take control, brutally impose sectarian laws, etc..
6. Syrian refugees in Lebanon without passports, who were not technically eligible to vote on May 28, were able to cross the border to vote and then return immediately to Lebanon. Tens of thousands of Syrians stood in long lines for many hours to do this.
7. The successful election is a disappointment for the promoters of violence and “regime change”. The organizations and individuals who campaigned for a direct US attack on Syria last September have pretended that a peaceful contested election is somehow a “blood” election. Their slick messages and promotion of violence is reminiscent of the Iraqi National Council, which promoted the disastrous invasion of Iraq.
8. With this confirmation of popular support for President Assad and the Syrian government, it is time for the US and other “Friends of Syria” to stop sponsoring, funding, arming and training violent rebels. It is time for the US to start practicing what it preaches: non-interference in the affairs of other countries, promoting peaceful and nonviolent change and respect for international law.
• Members of Syria Solidarity Movement participated in the international election observer team in Syria.