Syrian parliamentary election, 1961
On 29 October 1961, the 1949 election law was restored and amended by Legislative decree No. 56. The basic provisions of the 1949 law remained in place: every Syrian national above the age of 18 had the right to vote; one deputy for every 30,000 voters; separate representation for non-Muslims and the Bedouin tribes. Some of the more important amendments was giving women passive suffrage in addition to active suffrage guaranteed in the 1949 law. 1 December was fixed as election day. The election law also stipulated that balloting would be extended to 2 December, if by the time the polls closed on 1 December, less than 51% of the voters had cast their vote. The deadline for nomination of candidates was extended to 22 November. The electoral constituents were announced as a total of 172 seats. The total number of candidates was announced on election eve as 1,876, including 11 women.
The government decided that ministers appearing as candidates in the elections should resign their posts in the cabinet. Accordingly the resignation of following ministers was announced on November 18: Leon Zamariya (Finance and Supplies), Farhan al-Jandali (Health), Fuad al-Adil (Labour and Social Affairs) and Said al-Sayyed (Agrarian Reform). In addition, prime minister Maamun al-Kuzbari also resigned and handed his post to the deputy prime minister Izzat al-Nus (Minister of Education), on November 20. Dr. al-Nus, the new prime minister, in a statement of policy, stressed the transitional character of his government which had its main task the holding of elections "at their scheduled time and in an atmosphere of neutrality, impartiality and confidence."
Three days before the official campaigns started the army command issued a statement asserting its neutrality in the elections. The statement said that several candidates were falsely claiming to be army nominees.
The duration for the election campaigns was set between 22 November and 29 November. The regulations were aimed at asserting full freedom: there would be a ban during the election period on anything that might harm the safety of the army or public security. Propagenda on television and radio was banned. Publication of election material in the press was to be supervised neutral committees in each province.
Although the official election campaign opened on November 22, an election atmosphere became apparent earlier. Officially permitted propaganda was very limited. Each candidate was allowed one statement only, of 65 lines and approved by the election committee, in morning and evening newspapers.
On the eve of the election there were two main factions: conservatives on the right, who wanted abolition of the socialist measures enacted during the union, and the leftists who desired their retentions. On the other hand, all factions desired a democratic contest. Leading Lebanese newspaper al-Jareeda predicted a conservative victory in Damascus, mainly because of the disunity between the rivals. Hama and Homs seemed more favorable towards the left due to more sensitivity there to peasant problems. In the al-Jazirah and Jabal al-Druze, the family factor was decisive.
The elections took place on 1 December. The elections proceeded in an orderly way and a calm atmosphere. In most constituencies more than 51% of the electorate had voted by the close of the polls on December 1; in the remaining constituencies polling stations reopened at 5:00 am on 2 December. The vote for the Assembly was secret; voters received an empty envelope and a blank ballot paper and voted in the privacy of booths.
There were no official figures but estimates put the number of eligible voters at between 1,000,000 and 1,250,000. According to the Minister of Interior, participation the various constituencies ranged from 48% to 84%, "a figure not reached in Syria before." In Damascus the participation was 46%.
By the time of the elections all political parties were officially disbanded. Thus, there were only independent candidates or non-party lists, and the results were interpreted on the basis of party affiliation and on of rightist versus leftist tendencies.
|Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party||20||-2|
|Arab Liberation Movement||4||+2|
|Socialist Cooperation Party||0||-2|
|Syrian Social Nationalist Party||0||-2|
|Syrian Communist Party||0||-1|
|Kurdistan Democratic Party||0||new|
|Assyrian Democratic Organization||0||new|
|Source: Nohlen et al.|
It was generally agreed that the results were a victory for the right. The success of the Muslim Brotherhood, considered an "extreme right", and the "anti-Nasser" elements were also noted. As far as party affiliation, the People's Party had remained the strongest faction, which attracted many of the independents; the National Party and the Ba'ath Party followed. At its first meeting, on December 12, the assembly elected Maamun al-Kuzbari as speaker by 114 votes and on December 14 Nazim al-Kudsi, leader of the People's Party, was elected president of the republic with a majority of 153 votes.
- Nohlen, D, Grotz, F & Hartmann, C (2001) Elections in Asia: A data handbook, Volume I, p221 ISBN 019924958
- Oron, 1967, p.499.
- Oron, 1967, p.500.
- Oron, 1967, p.501.
- Oron, 1967, p.502.
- Oron, 1967, p.503.
- Oron, 1967, p.506.
- Oron, Yitzhak, ed. (1967). Middle East Record Volume 2, 1961. Jerusalem: The Moshe Dayan Center.
- Nohlen, Dieter; Grotz, Florian; Hartmann, Christof (2001). Elections in Asia and the Pacific: A Data Handbook: Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-924958-9.