Posted by Joshua on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007
Idaf supplied this English summary and comment:
The new amendment to the Syrian “elections law” now organizes the funding and management of election campaigns. Candidates are now allowed by law to promote their agendas on state run media as well as raise funds for their campaign.
This is an important amendment to the election law. Earlier, most candidates were only depending on their family names, tribes, sects, bribes etc. for votes. The new law also prohibits candidates from providing “services and financial assistance” prior to elections. This is one of the most important points in the new law IMHO as it will limit the bribes that dominate election campaigns in Syria (the dominant trend in elections in developing countries).
One of the commentators highlighted the new amendment to the election law after it was made public this morning.
Idaf’s conclusion regarding the new amendment to the election law was that “it will limit the bribes that dominate election campaigns in Syria.”
First, this amendment only applies to the independents, which make up 84 of the 253-seat assembly. Please note that this is conveniently just below the one third that is needed to implement article 91 of the constitution for example (it is 33.2%). Moreover, 43 of the 84 so-called independents must belong to the “ummal and Fallaheen” group. The other 41 can come from “other” classes of society. The Baath party (134 members) dominates the proceedings by being a member of the National Progressive Front, a grouping of parties that attempts to give the impression that this is not a one-party political system. The 35 members that make up this group are supposed to represent Communists, Arab Socialists and Nationalists.
For those interested in the constitution and its amendments, you can visit:
This brings us back to the $57,000 equivalent that is the new spending cap for the 84 independent candidates. Remember that 43 of them belong to the “ummal and Fallaheen” group. Presumably, these individuals could not possibly spend $57,000 on campaign advertising. This leaves us with 41 members who will have to pay a penalty of 10 times any excess spending over the cap. Moreover, they are forbidden from offering any “services, monetary or in-kind help” to individuals, unions, sports clubs or any non-officials parties. Parties that accept to receive any such help from candidates are also also forbidden from doing so.
Instead of making the system more democratic by increasing the percentage of independents that can run, the new amendment is designed to exclude independently wealthy candidates from ever thinking of applying.
This rubber-stamping branch of government was already in a shameful state of existence. Idaf’s statement above did nothing to highlight this fact. Instead, it gave the socialist/communist impression that wealthy candidates must be bad for the country since they can buy their way in this already ineffective body.
For true change to take place, Mr. Assad should have raised the 33.2% limit of the independent candidates rather than worry about how much they spend on their advertising campaigns. That would have served the country more than this populist self-serving draconian amendment ever will.