Syria held its parliamentary elections on July 19, Sunday. Voting in more than 7,400 polling stations located in all government-controlled areas in the country, including the newly recaptured areas of southern Idlib, started at 7 am and went on till 11 pm, Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.
The elections were originally scheduled to be held in April. They were twice postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Results are expected to be announced on Monday.
Millions of refugees forced to live outside the country due to the war were not able to participate in the elections. Syrians living under the Turkish-backed rebel held areas in the north of the country were also unable to vote.
Elections to the 250-seat Syrian parliament known as People’s Assembly are held every four years. More than 2,100 candidates, including around 200 women, are contesting in Syria’s 15 multi-seat constituencies in the current elections. Posters, banners and photographs of the campaigning candidates were displayed across the country in the last few weeks. President Bashal al-Assad’s ruling Arab socialist Ba’ath party is the main contender in the current elections. It had won 200 seats in the last elections held in 2016, with the rest being won by independent candidates or smaller parties.
The contesting candidates have made a wide variety of election promises, including to tackle the rising costs of living, drastically repairing and rebuilding the infrastructure in parts of the country affected by the conflict and violence, as well as building new and modern infrastructure. Many have also promised to improve the delivery and efficiency of public services for Syrians. These issues are important to a large part of the population, which is suffering from the additional setbacks to the economy due to the pandemic, besides the damage already caused by the war and debilitating US and western sanctions.
The polls were conducted in a relatively stable and peaceful manner. In the last polls in 2016, the turnout stood at 57%. The new parliament will clear candidates for the next presidential polls scheduled to be held in 2021.