Damascus: People in Syria are likely to shun Parliamentary Elections, which are widely seen as a sham that would do nothing to loosen President Bashar al-Assad’s grip on power.
Voters began casting ballots at 7 am (12 am ET), the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.
The streets of Damascus are bedecked with campaign posters and billboards, giving the appearance of lively campaign race, with the regime touting the elections as evidence of its commitment to reform.
But few believe that the poll is much more than a publicity stunt and analysts say that there is not even the most limited opposition with candidates uniformly loyal to the regime, The Independent reports.
According to the paper, opposition groups such as the Syrian National Council and National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria urged a boycott, while activists on the ground announced the formation of an “alternative” opposition Parliament, made up of members of local revolutionary councils.
“We think the elections have no credibility at all in the middle of a situation where the regime is killing the population. It is an insult to the democratic process,” the paper quoted an SNC spokeswoman Bassma Kodmani, as saying.
According to the paper, in the southern town of Dael, election campaign posters were replaced with pictures of 20 local residents who have died in the uprising.
The vote for members of the country’s 250-seat Parliament takes place against the background of deadly violence, with fierce fighting erupting in the eastern region of Deir Al-Zor yesterday.
The elections are the first since a referendum on a new Constitution in February ended the ruling Baath Party’s monopoly on politics and supposedly paved the way for a multi-party system.