Friday, February 04, 2005

Elections vs. elections

I received this sarcastic article via e mail from a Syrian friend who's a member of the "Reform Party of Syria". The article talks about the latest election in Syria and compares between this one and the Sunday elections of Iraq.

Here's the whole article:

Doubt reigns over the outcome of Syrian elections; Outside observers question legitimacy of Bashar Assad’s 99% victory over (now presumed missing) opponent.

Results from Monday’s Syrian elections were announced today, with a clear mandate handed to Bashar Assad, with his ruling Ba'ath party sweeping the elections with a staggering 95% of the votes.
However, opposition parties such as the Communist Party and the Liberal Syrian Nationalist Party voiced complaints that their election results of negative 5 and 3 percent respectively were products of an unfair and rigged election process.
The head of the Ba'ath party regional politburo promised to immediately look into allegations of fraud and “resolutely and mercilessly deal with complaints so that they never ever happen again...ever.”!

CNN analyst Fareed Zakaria however moved fast to point out that the high voter turnout rate ought to be looked at as a positive developmental sign for democracy in Syria.
“With a 90% voter turnout rate, Syria remains light years ahead in the field of democratic involvement as opposed to one certain neighboring Arab so called democratic state…I don’t want to start naming names here or getting into a game of my-Arab-country-is-more democratic-than-yours…but lets face it, Syria’s elections went off without a hitch and were never marred with the uncertainty and chaos of not knowing who was going to win.”

When asked for their opinion on the remarkably high turnout of Syrian voters, unfriendly election ‘monitors’ simply shrugged and pointed to their bats.

A number of Middle Eastern experts also praised the convenient simplicity and easy to understand ballot for the Syrian presidential elections.
While the ballots in the recently conducted Iraqi elections included as many as a hundred different entities and nearly seven thousand candidates, the Syrian ballot was in contrast much more compact allowing for little room for voter confusion
(in most instances the ballots were already pre-marked in favor of Bashar Assad).

In addition, Ba'athist officials this year introduced a new ‘voter friendly’ ballot to ensure that absolutely no Syrian citizen would be faced with the dilemma of indecision (let alone chaos) that plagues many voters in the democratic world. At the top of each ballot now stands a picture of a smiling Bashar Assad above a caption that reads:
‘Vote, your life may depend on it’.

Ba'athist elections officials were mulling using a more direct slogan next year ‘Vote or die’ but feared comparisons with a similar slogan by American channel MTV urging young people of that country to vote.
However, Syrian Ba'ath officials were quick to remark that any superficial similarities between the slogans were completely coincidental and not to be taken in similar context. ‘Believe me, we mean it in a totally different way’ said Nabil Wahshi, general secretary of the Damascus Ba'ath party.

In a New York Times editorial, Michigan University’s professor of Middle Eastern studies Juan Cole said that he saw the elections in Syria as a model for other Arab countries to follow. “The last thing the Arab people need is a red herring like ‘free and open elections’ to distract them from the international Zionist/Neo-Con conspiracy to take their oil” Professor Cole then added that President Assad’s ability to gain such a high percentage of the vote “all the while maintaining an oligarchic cult of personality oppressive regime mired in nepotism and corruption” was “truly impressive” and a positive sign of “Arab solidarity.”

Indeed, many regional experts contend that the Syrian elections are the most legitimate to date among any held in the Arab world. According to one (unnamed) Syrian political analyst, “The Syrian elections are totally legitimate and a great advancement of Arab pride. No one can say that Bashar Assad heads a puppet regime, it is not controlled by foreign outside forces… or by the people, and it is completely unbeholden and unaccountable to anyone!”

In a sign of international solidarity, Richard Gere phoned to give his congratulations to president Assad and according to one observer was overheard playfully teasing Assad -reportedly remarking- “hey buddy, 20 more years eh ?”

Assad in a televised address this Tuesday said that he wished to thank the Syrian people “from the bottom of my heart” for their support and continued faith in his Baathist regime, cryptically concluding that “While I may not be able to thank each and every one of you who voted for me… rest assured, someone on my behalf will be paying a visit for those of you who did not.” !


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