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Damascus puts on elections while Russia is busy with geopolitics

While Moscow has been busy with the situation in Idlib, Damascus has held municipal elections, where its candidates won.
A man walks through the old city of Damascus, Syria, September 12, 2018. Picture taken September 12, 2018. REUTERS/Marko Djurica      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC1AD454BD80

Municipal elections held Sept. 16 presumably constituted a new attempt by Damascus to showcase internal stability. Official accounts say about 40,000 candidates competed for over 18,000 council seats in regions long controlled by the government. Authorities said the ostensibly high turnout made them extend voting nationwide five hours; it ended at midnight instead of 7 p.m.

Curiously, the official information about the turnout was mentioned only after the results were announced by the Higher Judicial Committee for Elections. Losing candidates can challenge the results within five days after the official announcement of the results. However, the stipulation is but a mere formality since the elections were clearly biased toward the Baath Party and the outcome was expected. The formal victory of the ruling party makes it even less likely that officials in Damascus will promote political diversity when the final stage of the armed confrontation with the rebels is over.

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