economic and social issues at the heart of this Sunday’s legislative elections

Campaign posters of candidates for parliamentary elections in northern Aleppo on July 15.

Syrians are being called to the polls on Sunday, July 19, for legislative elections in a country ravaged by war and in the midst of economic slump. More than 7,400 polling stations open their doors at 7:30 a.m. (6:30 a.m. in Paris) in government areas.

According to the electoral commission, polling stations were set up for the first time in Eastern Ghouta, a former insurgent enclave at the gates of the capital. But also in territories reconquered in the province of Idlib, the last great jihadist and rebel stronghold of the North-West, which remains in the sights of the regime.

Specific polling stations have been set up in the various provinces to allow displaced people to vote for candidates from their region of origin. But the millions of Syrians abroad, most of whom are refugees, will not be able to participate in the elections unless they return.

This is the third parliamentary election since the start, in 2011, of a conflict that killed more than 380,000 people and caused the exodus of millions of people, while the regime and its pillars are being hit by Western sanctions.

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On the eve of the poll, one person was killed and another injured in the explosion of two bombs near a mosque in the southern suburbs of Damascus, according to the SANA news agency.

Programs dominated by economic issues

The Baath party, in power for half a century and intimately linked to the Assad clan, generally wins hands down these legislative elections, organized every four years to elect 250 deputies, while the majority of opponents live in exile or in sectors escaping. to the control of Damascus.

Originally scheduled for April, the vote has been delayed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic that has infected 496 people and killed 25 in regions of the regime, according to official figures.

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Among the 1,658 candidates running, there are businessmen. For several weeks now, the streets of the capital have been invaded by their portraits accompanied by slogans. This time around, the candidates’ programs are dominated by economic and social – and not military – issues, promising in particular solutions to soaring prices and rehabilitation of infrastructure.

For several months, the economy has been in free fall, with a historic depreciation of the currency. More than 80% of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the United Nations (UN). A crisis also accentuated by the sanctions of the Caesar law adopted by Washington in mid-June, coming on top of similar measures already imposed by the West.

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The World with AFP


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