Syrian presidential election, 2014
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
As a result of the ongoing Syrian Civil War, Syria has the largest refugee population in the world, and voting for refugees in certain foreign countries began at Syrian embassies several days before voting took place in Syria itself. Some domestic and foreign-based Syrian opposition groups boycotted the election, and the vote did not take place in large parts of Syria under rebel control. The areas under Kurdish militia control also did not allow voting, though some people still traveled to government held areas to vote.
There were observers from more than 30 countries including Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, India, Iran, Iraq, Nicaragua, Russia, South Africa and Venezuela. They issued a statement saying the election were "free, fair and transparent". However it was widely reported that the elections lacked independent election monitoring. The Gulf Cooperation Council, the European Union and the United States all dismissed the election as illegitimate. Attempts to hold an election under the circumstances of an ongoing civil war were criticized by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.
Some rebel groups vowed to disrupt the elections in any way possible, including bombing and shelling polling stations and government-controlled areas. Another statement, issued by the Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union, the Sham Corps, the Army of Mujahedeen, and the Islamic Front, said they would not "target voters but warned people to stay at home in case the Syrian government did". There were 50 reported deaths from the shelling by the rebels.
Since 2011, the country has been plagued by the Syrian Civil War that has factionalised the population largely, but not entirely, along sectarian religious and/or ethnic grounds. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights states that the war has claimed over 150,000 lives. One third of the country's population of 23 million (some 7 million) have been displaced, with 2.5 million as refugees in foreign countries. The Washington Post said that the election "lacked any independent election monitoring".
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that amid the ongoing Syrian Civil War and large-scale displacement of Syrian citizens, "such elections are incompatible with the letter and spirit of the Geneva communique" and would "damage prospects of a political solution with the opposition".
The 2.5 million refugees and their ability to vote has resulted in several controversies surrounding this election. Hundreds of thousands of refugees who did not leave Syria officially via border posts have been excluded from voting.
In Beirut (Lebanon), which hosts some 1.1 million Syrian refugees, the roads were paralyzed because of the huge number of Syrian refugees and Syrian expatriates already living in Lebanon that wanted to vote at the embassy.
Belgium, Cananda, Egypt, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE and the United States did not allow the elections to be held in the Syrian embassy.
In Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Brazil, China, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Mauritania, Malaysia, Nigeria, Lebanon, Oman, Indonesia, Sudan, Japan, Jordan, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russia, India, Iran, Iraq, South Africa, Spain, Serbia, Sweden, Ukraine, Venezuela and Yemen voting in the Syrian embassy was possible.
The new constitution, adopted following the Syrian constitutional referendum, 2012, has changed the nature of the Presidential election from a referendum to a multi-candidate electoral ballot. As a result this election marks the first time that candidates can challenge the incumbent President. A law adopted by the Syrian parliament in early 2014 restricts candidacy to individuals who have lived in Syria for the past ten years, thereby preventing exiled people from running.
On 8 April Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoabi announced that candidates will be able to submit their applications during the last ten days of April. Zoabi insisted that despite the ongoing civil war that the election would proceed on schedule, and wouldn't be delayed for any reason. Zoabi also claimed that the "overwhelming majority" of Syrians wished to see incumbent President Bashar al-Assad re-elected. Zoabi also claimed that government military operations would continue despite the election.
A total of 24 candidates, including 2 women and a Christian, submitted applications to the Supreme Constitutional Court for the presidency. Of these, two candidates other than Assad met all the conditions to run, including the support of 35 members of the parliament. The two other candidates chosen to run are seen as "mostly symbolic contenders" and "little known figures"
- Bashar al-Assad, the incumbent president, leader of Ba'ath Party
- Hassan Abdullah al-Nouri, from the National Initiative for Administration and Change in Syria, a 54 year old MP from Damascus
- Maher Abd Al-Hafiz Hajjar, formerly from the People's Will Party, a 43 year old MP from Aleppo. This party is led by veteran opposition leader Qadri Jamil who supported the initial protests in 2011 but then described calls for the overthrow of the government as "unrealistic and useless". Jamil was a member of the committee that drafted the new Constitution of Syria in 2011. However, People's Will won just two of 250 MPs in the 2012 parliamentary election with their allies from the Syrian Social Nationalist Party won a further four. Jamil was nominated Deputy Prime Minister by President Assad in June 2012 but removed in October 2013. The small number of MPs from the party indicates that most of his nominations must have come from either independents or MPs from the ruling National Progressive Front. A statement from the People's Will Party on 27 April distanced the party from Hajjar, claiming that Hajjar was no longer a member of either the People's Will Party, or the Popular Front for Liberation and Change. Instead the statement claimed that Hajjar represented only himself.
The other 21 candidates that did not meet the criteria were:
- Sawsan Omar al-Haddad, born in Latakia Governorate in 1963. (woman)
- Sameer Ahmad Mo'alla, born in Quneitra Governorate in 1961.
- Mohammad Firas Yassin Rajjouh, born in Damascus in 1966.
- Abdul-Salam Youssef Salameh, born in Homs governorate in 1971.
- Ali Mohammad Wannous, born in Homs in 1973.
- Azza Mohammad Wajih al-Hallaq, born in Damascus in 1962. (woman)
- Talie Saleh Nasser, born in Kafrin in 1967.
- Samih Mikhael Mousa, born in Btaiha in 1963. (Christian)
- Mahmoud Khalil Halbouni, born in Harasta in 1946.
- Mohammad Hassan al-Kanaan, born in al-Sanamayn in 1964.
- Khaled Abdo al-Kreidi, born in al-Al in 1966.
- Basheer Mohammad al-Balah, born in Damascus in 1931.
- Ahmad Hassoun al-Abboud, born in al-Mayadin in 1962
- Ayman Shamdin al-Issa Alam, born in al-Husseinyeh in 1967.
- Ziad Adnan Hakawati, born in Damascus in 1955.
- Ahmad Ali Qsei’eh, born in Jabaq in 1951.
- Mahmoud Mohammad Nassr, born in Zahiriye in 1969.
- Ali Hassan al-Hassan, born in Deir Saras in 1965.
- Ahmad Omar Dabba, born in Tazeh Shamaliye in 1969.
- Mahmoud Naji Moussa, born in Tadmur in 1950.
- Hossein Mohammad Tijan, born in Aleppo in 1961.
The Supreme Constitutional Court announced on Wednesday 4 June that turnout for the election was 73.42%, with 11,634,412 of the 15,845,575 Syrians eligible to take part voting. The number for Syrians eligible to vote is based on the government’s data of all Syrians living in Syria and abroad over the age of 18; this includes all Syrians in government-held territory, rebels-held territory, refugees, newly naturalized Kurds, and declared Syrian expatriates.
The number of invalid papers was 442,108, or 3.8%. Majed Khadra, the Spokesperson of the Supreme Constitutional Court, also announced that the losing candidates and individuals with complaints about the electoral process had 3 days to submit their appeals. He stated that the court would decide the final outcome in the 7 days following the three day appeal period, and then would announce the name of the declared winner by means of the Speaker of the People's Assembly. The same day the Speaker of the People's Assembly, Mohammad Jihad al-Laham, announced the raw data results.
|Bashar al-Assad||Ba'ath Party||10,319,723||88.7|
|Source: SANA, SANA|
- Hassan al-Nouri – held a press conference at the Damascus Sheraton Hotel where he congratulated President Assad for "winning confidence of the Syrian people through wining the presidential elections." Nouri also claimed that the electoral process had been clear and transparent to the entire world, adding that both he and his representatives had inspected the vote counting. Nouri also criticized those who had called for a boycott, and claimed instead that the elections could do no harm or good to the Syrian people. Nouri ended his speech stating "I promise I was a patriotic candidate who takes part in building Syria and will be a soldier behind the Syrian Arab Army."
- Afghanistan – expressed hope that Syria will overcome all challenges "thanks to the wisdom of its leadership and the determination of the Syrian people". Afghanistan affirmed support to Syria in "combating terrorism and extremism", considering President al-Assad’s presidential elections win as “a new chapter that paves the way for ending the crisis in Syria".
- Algeria – President of Algeria Abdelaziz Bouteflika sent a cable of congratulations to President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, on the occasion of winning the presidential elections. President Bouteflika expressed, in his cable, best wishes for further progress and prosperity to the brotherly people of Syria.
- Armenia – hoped that Syria will manage to reestablish peace and stability through a national dialogue in the name of the well-being and prosperity of the Syrian people. I [Serzh Sargsyan] wish you [Bashar al-Assad] good health and successes and I wish the friendly Syrian people eternal peace.
- Belarus – expressed confidence that Syria will eliminate the current crisis and continue under the leadership of President al-Assad "the fight against terrorism and foreign interference in its internal affairs".
- Bolivia – reiterated it’s support to Syria under the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad in its war against "terrorism and the imperialistic hegemony".
- Brunei – expressed wishes for Syria to continue its advancement and his [Hassan al-Bolkiah] desire to work with President al-Assad to develop cooperation and friendship ties between the two countries. It stressed that "the Syrians’ massive turnout to polls rendered futile all attempts to fracture Syria and tear the Syrians’ unity apart". The Syrian people, by their vigorous participation in the elections, have expressed "commitment to national firm principles and spoken out loud against terrorism that has plagued their country".
- Cuba – expressed hope that Syria will overcome all challenges "thanks to the wisdom of its leadership and the determination of the Syrian people". It stressed that "the victory of President al-Assad is a victory for all honest and free people who bravely supported Syria in face of the foreign conspiracies and war imposed on it".
- Guyana – President of Guyana Donald Ramotar said in his cable of congratulations to President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, that al-Assad's win in the presidential election is a great victory for Syria, expressing his wishes for continuing friendship relations between both countries and coordinating common positions on regional and international issues.
- Iran – Foreign Ministry published a statement: "All impartial foreign observers described this election as free and in a calm atmosphere. The Syrian people picked (Assad) with an overwhelming (88.7%) of votes. The Syrian people’s will overpowered America’s….This is the fruit of the Syrian people’s three years of resistance"
- Nicaragua – "We want to congratulate him on his resounding victory in the presidential election on Tuesday June 3. Their victory, brother President Bashar represents a reaffirmation of the commitment to peace and spirit of the Syrian people, has defended you with chivalry"
- North Korea – sent a congratulatory message to Bashar Al-Assad upon his re-election as president of Syria. The message extended warm congratulations to him upon his re-election as president of Syria thanks to the support and trust of the Syrian people.
- Palestine – said that electing President al-Assad means "preserving Syria’s unity and sovereignty and that it will help end the crisis and confront terrorism, wishing prosperity and safety to Syria".
- Russia – sees the vote as an important event that safeguards the continued functioning of state institutions in Syria. The election was "naturally not 100 percent democratic" due to the conflict in Syria, but that turnout, transparency and the findings of foreign monitors "give us no reason to question the legitimacy of the election". "Against this background, the ... politicised reaction to the election from some of our international partners cannot fail to cause disillusionment It is unacceptable to ignore the views of millions of Syrians."
- Somalia – congratulated the Syrian people on President Bashar al-Assad’s win of the presidential elections held on June 3 in Syria. It expressed Somalia’s keenness on bolstering the fraternal ties between Somalia and Syria in the interests of the two peoples. Somalia hopes that the Syrian people will restore security, stability, amity and civil peace.
- South Africa – congratulating Bashar al-Assad on winning the presidential elections. It voiced hope that the Syrian people and government will overcome the crisis affecting their country, affirming South Africa’s readiness to help in this regard.
- United Kingdom – British Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "Assad lacked legitimacy before this election, and he lacks it afterwards. This election bore no relation to genuine democracy. It was held in the midst of civil war." 
- United States – U.S. condemns Syrian presidential election and it was described as a disgrace. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf at daily press briefing: "Today’s presidential election in Syria is a disgrace. Bashar al-Assad has no more credibility today than he did yesterday. In a country where there is not a free society, this selection process is a inconceivable situation, she said." 
- Venezuela – reiterated its full support for the Syrian people in their struggle for peace and reiterates its strong condemnation of "the destabilizing actions that are still in Syria, with encouragement from members of NATO".
- Friends of Syria – denounced the election, claiming it will be rigged and would be adverse to the premise behind the Geneva II talks. The group also questioned the veracity of an election given it would be run in the middle of a civil war and only within government areas, "thereby meaning that millions of Syrians unable to vote as a result of the war either due to being in areas outside government control or due to being displaced".
- Hezbollah – "The elections proved that a political solution in Syria begins and ends with President Bashar al-Assad. There is a president who has been elected by millions for a new seven-year term. Those who want to work for a political solution must talk to him, negotiate with him and reach a solution with him. We call on combatants ... to move towards reconciliation and dialogue, looking for political exits to stop the bloodshed. This fighting will only increase destruction in your country and add to the bloodshed," he said, addressing the opposition. Everyone should recognise and acknowledge that war in Syria will not lead to others taking control of it."
- Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syriac Orthodox Church – said that the success of the presidential elections in Syria and the victory of President Bashar al-Assad are a victory for all honest Syrian citizens. In a letter of congratulation, Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II expressed his sincere congratulations to president al-Assad for winning the elections, praying to God to help and guide him in his work.
- Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus' of the Russian Orthodox Church – congratulated President of Syria Bashar al-Assad for his win in recent presidential elections. In his cable, Patriarch Kirill said he is sure that "centuries-long national accord and fraternity in Syria will motivate the establishment of stability and peace there." He wished President al-Assad more courage and strength to steer Syria through the current stage and bring back security and stability, hoping that the Syrian people will see peace and stability.
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