Activists: Syrians Boycott 'Sham' Parliamentary Election

Syrian activists say people in rebellious towns and villages across the country are largely boycotting a government-run parliamentary election that major opposition groups have dismissed as a sham.

The activists say streets were empty and shops were closed in the central town of Hama and other opposition strongholds, as residents observed a general strike to protest Monday's vote.

The election is the latest effort by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to show that a democratic reform process is underway in the country ruled by his family since the 1970s.

Watch VOA's Elizabeth Arrott's story from Damascus

But, prominent Syrian opposition groups inside and outside the country have called the vote a farce, saying it cannot have any credibility while Assad's forces continue a deadly crackdown on a 14-month opposition uprising.

Syria's Parliamentary Elections

  • 7,195 candidates, including 710 women.
  • 7 new political parties are fielding candidates.
  • Candidates are running for 250 parliamentary seats.
  • The Ba'ath party has been in power for nearly 50 years.
  • Many opposition groups are boycotting the vote.

Syrian state television showed voters casting ballots in the capital, Damascus, and elsewhere for more than 7,000 candidates vying for seats in the 250-member parliament. A coalition led by Assad's Baath party has monopolized the assembly for decades, but a new constitution approved in a February referendum allowed for the creation of new political parties.

The government has said at least seven new parties are competing with the Baath-led National Progressive Front for parliamentary seats, but the exiled opposition Syrian National Council rejected those parties as "creations of the regime." In some centers of the revolt, residents displayed posters of activists killed by government forces, urging people to vote for the "martyrs" rather than the government-sanctioned candidates.  

Some voters in Damascus said they have a duty to vote and others expressed a hope for change.  Opposition SNC spokeswoman Bassma Kodmani said that the Syrian government pressures people to vote in areas under its control by mobilizing security forces to transport them to polling stations.

Syrian government and rebel forces have continued daily attacks on each other despite a U.N.-backed truce agreement that took effect last month. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government troops killed three people in an ambush in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour on Monday.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices
. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Vismaya
May 07, 2012 10:16 AM
The Syrian rebels want Libya repeated in their country.But that bus seems to have left long agao.

by: Sam
May 07, 2012 9:02 AM
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a step not with guns.
At least this is the first, they should ask Aung sang Suu chi for some advise

by: Cha Cha Cohen
May 07, 2012 2:17 AM
Either take part like a brave or get out like a coward! Please do not create drama to kill innocent citizens!! The world is burning in infernos created by the wickeds!!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs