On 3 June, Syrians will go to the polls to vote in presidential elections that are expected to see Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad clinch yet another term. With two seven-year terms already under his belt, the strongman, who has managed to remain in power in despite a three-year war with rebel groups, is sure to win a third victory in the widely criticised elections. With media, state, and security apparatuses working for Al-Assad’s win, the elections are viewed by many as sham, tainted with undemocratic electoral procedures and continued human rights violations. “The state is clearly biased towards Al-Assad,” says Syrian journalist Bassel Oudat, who argues that state institutions have thrown their weight and resources indiscriminately behind the ruler in lieu of his two opponents: former minister Hassan Al-Nouri and parliamentarian Maher Hajjar.
State ministries, the media, and national institutions have channeled their means and resources towards Al-Assad’s candidacy, while the media largely ignores the other two candidates.
Grassroots organisations, professional associations and trade unions have also campaigned for Al-Assad in full-force, distributing publications and placing roadside adverts calling for his re-election, and holding gatherings and rallies in his favour.
The doctors, engineers, and sports syndicates have all issued declarations of support for the incumbent president.
For weeks before polls opened, posters showing the president broadcasted slogans of him as the guarantor of Syrian unity and as “the lion of all Arabs.”
The other candidates chose to run under less glorious slogans, such as “Syria is for Palestine,” and “A smart, free economy.”