The Syrian Elector will be issuing its report on the presidential referendum within the next few days.
Meanwhile, we will continue our coverage of Syrian electoral politics on this site, in our attempt to expose the fraudulent practices involved on part of Syrian authorities.
Our Arabic site is currently blocked by Syrian authorities, but can be accessed on the following link:
Here is the latest installment of the Syrian Elector Cartoons:
Our live coverage of the May 27 referendum can be revisited below.
Syrian Elector, May 27, 2007 (1:14 am Washington/8:14 am Damascus)
As the government-sponsored celebrations continued into the wee hour of the mornings in most major Syrian cities, especially in the city of Damascus, and to a lesser extant Aleppo, Homs, Lattakia, and Hassakeh, a certain nonchalant attitude prevailed and continue to prevail in most parts. Will this transpire into an actual large-scale boycott now that the polling stations are open for business? This is the hope of most Syrian opposition groups and dissidents, and there have been indications despite the carnival-like atmosphere that the regime has actively sponsored over the last few days, spending a whopping $50 million per day, according to some reports, that a boycott will indeed take place and that the actual voter turnout will be lower than regime' expectations.
But this battle is not about actual figures, which, judging by the extant of the popular boycott of the legislative elections, will probably favor the opposition. The battle is about appearances and will be fought in the media. Here the Syrian regime has much under its disposal and will surely try to convince everyone that the position of the Assads is quite secure and that they are firmly in control. Our main task, therefore, at the Syrian Elector, will be to try to assess the factuality of the rosy picture that the regime will paint for itself. People should remember here that even if the regime managed to put a few tens of thousands on the street in different parts of the country, Syria has over 12 million voters, their attitudes cannot be assessed by what we see in government-orchestrated rallies and celebrations.
The regime will try to get as many people out of their homes as possible, and will send its security people and army recruits, dressed in civilian attire, of course, to roam the streets and give an appearance of normality. But, will the same normality prevail elsewhere, especially where cameras don't go?
We shall try to provide a tentative answer to this question throughout the day, but the real story may not emerge for days to come.
We begin this live coverage by reminding people of the rally that took place in Washington on Saturday, in front of the Syrian Embassy, and of our last appeal to the Syrian people to boycott the elections.
Syrian Elector, May 27, 2007 (4:00 am Washington/11:00 am Damascus)
While the Syrian authorities seem to be attempting to block access to this site and, more importantly, its Arabic version, we would like to underscore to our visitors' attention the importance of the voting process that is taking place on the Arabic site. The vote may not be scientific, but the restrictions we introduced on multiple voting, allowing only one vote per IP address, is making it rather interesting to follow, as it seems to provide some indication of the general layout of the real political landscape in Syria. It seems very clear really that a democratic Syria will be ruled by coalitions, no one party or political current will likely have a clear majority to allow it to govern by itself.
Reports from Damascus indicate that some polling centers did indeed witness heavy traffic and a festive atmosphere in the morning.
Syrian Elector, May 27, 2007 (6:55 am Washington/01:55 pm Damascus)
Not all polling centers are busy, as these two photos show. Even the polling centers where people are dancing, the crowed has decreased considerably in comparion to its size during the midnight "celebrations."
Another polling center in Damascus
In the Meantime, and as things stand at 7:35 am Washington time/2:35 pm Damacus time, the virtual race for the presidency is heating up between front runner Ali Sadreddine al-Bayanouni, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, leading the Baath candidate, Bashar al-Assad with 2 percentage points only. While, Michel Kilo comes third with 14% of the vote so far, and Riad Seif fourth with 12% of the votes.
As for Aleppo, our early reports indicate that turnout is still lower than expected in most centers. While, in Homs, lax procedures allowed for many to vote in more than one center, in fact, some reported voting in as many as 7 centers.
The Syrian Elector, Washington (May 27, 2007 - 10:43 am Washington/5:43 pm Damascus)
One important conclusion that can be drawn from our mini voting process on the Syrian Elector Arabic site is that it demonstrates clearly that if the people had a genuine freedom to vote as they wish, almost 80% of them would say “no” to Bachar. Another observation that can be made here is that had it not been for deep ethnic and political cleavages shaping live in Syrian society, the Assads will not have been able to cling to power for so long.
The Syrian Elector, Hassakah (May 27, 2007 - 11:28 am Washington/6:28 pm Damascus)
The Atmospheres at the Hassakah Governorate during the First half Day of the Referendum: Boycott Rules the Day, aided by divine intervention.
The weather conditions at the Hassakah Governorate were reportedly quite severe in most parts except in the voting centers, which were unusually quiet. The referendum that started this morning was marked by a popular refrain that might be in part due to the weather conditions. Our correspondents at the Haska Governorate especially at those rural areas far from the center of the governorate noticed a number of fraudulent and improper voting practices, including people bringing a number of ID cards with them and voting on behalf of their extended families and clans. According to reports, the Syrian authority endeavored to encourage people to vote, but without success since weather conditions served as a good excuse for the voters to boycott the referendum. Because of these severe weather conditions, a joke circulated among people, who stated that the U.S., Israel, and the Syrian opposition in Syria and abroad made a deal with God to send a storm to Hassakah to prevent people from going out to vote.
The Syrian Elector, Hassakah (May 27, 2007 - 5:08 am Washington/12:08 pm Damascus)
Attendance Declined in the Afternoon.
Reports from Damascus show a drastic decline in attendance in the afternoon hours, and just as was the case with Hassakah, Homs, Aleppo, and other major cities, many voting irregularities were noted, including, voting without showing an ID card, and multiple voting. Of course, all voting took place in the open, for while the Syrian constitution specifically calls for secret balloting in case of the Legislative elections, no such clause is stipulated with regards to the presidential referendum, allowing for the direct intimidation of the voters by security personnel.
Students forced to stand next to the polling stations in Hassakah complain of having been coerced to attend on pain of not being allowed to take their final exams, if they failed to show up.
Meanwhile, in Homs, and other conservative Syrian cities and towns, most women "boycotted" the vote, because they were housewives and could not leave their homes. Seeing that almost half of the voters, registered and otherwise, are women, voter turnout is bound to suffer. We should watch official figures like hawks in this regard.
But such sensitivities do not apply to children it seems, seeing that, in Homs, one of our team members there reported having witnessed a ten-year old boy being allowed to cast a yes ballot for the president to the cheers of the crowd, all legal norms aside. No, this was not his father's ballot, this was a ballot especially given to him by the "nice" security people at the polling center. Such is the Assad demcoracy. Is it any wonder, then, that most opposition groups and dissidents cannot but refer to this whole event as farcical?