Syrian presidential election, 2014

Syrian presidential election, 2014
June 3, 2014 (2014-06-03)

Turnout 73.42%
Nominee Bashar al-Assad Hassan al-Nouri
Party Ba'ath Party NIACS
Popular vote 10,319,723 500,279
Percentage 88.7% 4.3%

President before election

Bashar al-Assad
Ba'ath Party

Elected President

Bashar al-Assad
Ba'ath Party

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

Presidential elections were held in Syria on 3 June 2014. It was the first multi-candidate election in decades since the Ba'ath party came to power in a coup. In late April 2014, Bashar al-Assad announced he would run for a third term in Syria's first multi-candidate direct presidential election.

As a result of the ongoing Syrian Civil War, Syria has the largest refugee population in the world, and voting for refugees in certain foreign countries began at Syrian embassies several days before voting took place in Syria itself.[1] Domestic and foreign-based Syrian opposition groups boycotted the election,[1][2] and the vote did not take place in large parts of Syria under rebel control.[3] The areas under Kurdish militia control also did not allow voting, though some people still traveled to Assad regime held areas to vote.[4]

Some rebel groups vowed to disrupt the elections in any way possible, including bombing and shelling polling stations and government-controlled areas.[5][6][7][8] Another statement, issued by the Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union, the Sham Corps, the Army of Mujahedeen, and the Islamic Front, said they would not "target voters but warned people to stay at home in case the Syrian government did". There were 50 reported deaths from the shelling by the rebels.[9]

Bashar al-Assad was sworn in for his third seven-year term on July 16, 2014 in the presidential palace in Damascus.[10] The Gulf Cooperation Council, the European Union and the United States dismissed the election as illegitimate.[11][12][13][14] Attempts to hold an election under the circumstances of an ongoing civil war were criticized by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon,[15] and it was widely reported that the elections lacked independent election monitoring.[16] However, an international delegation led by allies of Assad[17] from more than 30 countries including Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, India, Iran, Iraq, Nicaragua, Russia, South Africa and Venezuela[18][19] issued a statement claiming the election was "free, fair and transparent".[20]


Since 2011, the country has been plagued by the Syrian Civil War that has factionalised the population largely, but not entirely, along sectarian religious and/or ethnic grounds. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights states that the war has claimed over 150,000 lives.[21] One third of the country's population of 23 million[22] (some 7 million) have been displaced, with 2.5 million as refugees in foreign countries.[23] The Washington Post said that the election "lacked any independent election monitoring".[24][25]

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that amid the ongoing Syrian Civil War and large-scale displacement of Syrian citizens, "such elections are incompatible with the letter and spirit of the Geneva communiqué" and would "damage prospects of a political solution with the opposition".[15]


The 2.5 million refugees and their ability to vote has resulted in several controversies surrounding this election. Hundreds of thousands of refugees who did not leave Syria officially via border posts have been excluded from voting.[23]

In Beirut (Lebanon), which hosts some 1.1 million Syrian refugees, the roads were paralyzed because of the huge number of Syrian refugees and Syrian expatriates already living in Lebanon that wanted to vote at the embassy.

Belgium, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE and the United States did not allow the elections to be held in the Syrian embassy.[1][26]

In Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Brazil, China, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Mauritania, Malaysia, Nigeria, Lebanon, Oman, Indonesia, Sudan, Japan, Jordan, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russia, India, Iran, Iraq, South Africa, Spain, Serbia, Sweden, Ukraine, Venezuela and Yemen voting in the Syrian embassy was possible.[27][28][29][30]


The new constitution, adopted following the Syrian constitutional referendum, 2012, has changed the nature of the Presidential election from a referendum to a multi-candidate electoral ballot. As a result, this election marks the first time that candidates can challenge the incumbent President. A law adopted by the Syrian parliament in early 2014 restricts candidacy to individuals who have lived in Syria for the past ten years, thereby preventing exiled people from running.[31]

On 8 April Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoabi announced that candidates will be able to submit their applications during the last ten days of April. Zoabi insisted that despite the ongoing civil war that the election would proceed on schedule, and wouldn't be delayed for any reason. Zoabi also claimed that the "overwhelming majority" of Syrians wished to see incumbent President Bashar al-Assad re-elected.[31] Zoabi also claimed that government military operations would continue despite the election.[32]

Eligibility criteria

The conditions required to be a candidate in a presidential election are the following:

  1. A candidate must be Muslim
  2. A candidate must have the support of no less than 35 members of the parliament
  3. A candidate must be 34 years old or older
  4. A candidate must have lived in Syria for 10 years before the election
  5. A candidate must be Syrian by birth, of parents who are Syrians by birth
  6. A candidate must not be married to a non-Syrian spouse


A total of 24 candidates, including 2 women and a Christian, submitted applications to the Supreme Constitutional Court for the presidency.[33][34][35] Of these, two candidates other than Assad met all the conditions to run, including the support of 35 members of the parliament.[36] The two other candidates chosen to run are seen as "mostly symbolic contenders" and "little known figures"[1]

Qualified candidates of the election: Bashar Assad (left) - Maher Hajjar (middle) - Hassan al-Nouri (right)

The other 21 candidates that did not meet the criteria were:[38]


The Supreme Constitutional Court announced on Wednesday 4 June that turnout for the election was 73.42%, with 11,634,412 of the 15,845,575 Syrians eligible to take part voting. The number for Syrians eligible to vote is based on the government’s data of all Syrians living in Syria and abroad over the age of 18; this includes all Syrians in government-held territory, rebels-held territory, refugees, newly naturalized Kurds, and declared Syrian expatriates.

The number of invalid papers was 442,108, or 3.8%. Majed Khadra, the Spokesperson of the Supreme Constitutional Court, also announced that the losing candidates and individuals with complaints about the electoral process had 3 days to submit their appeals. He stated that the court would decide the final outcome in the 7 days following the three-day appeal period, and then would announce the name of the declared winner by means of the Speaker of the People's Assembly.[39] The same day the Speaker of the People's Assembly, Mohammad Jihad al-Laham, announced the raw data results.[40]

Candidate Party Votes %
Bashar al-AssadBa'ath Party 10,319,723 88.7
Hassan al-NouriNIACS500,2794.3
Maher HajjarIndependent372,3013.2
Invalid/blank votes 442,108 3.8
Registered votes/turnout15,845,575 73.42
Source: SANA (WA), SANA (WA)

Andrew Gelman suggested that the results could be fabricated based on the unlikely accurate numbers.[41] For example, 10,319,723/11,634,412 = 0.886999962, so the 88.7% number for Bashar al-Assad is correct to the nearest single voter. Similarly, the proportion for NIACS comes out at 0.042999938 and for the Independent party at 0.031999985.

But whilst Gelman's argument provides strong evidence that the published counts were fabricated, he admits that it does not preclude the theory that those numbers could have been generated retrospectively (and unprofessionally) from valid percentages.

The proportion reported for turnout, 0.734237287, does not exhibit the unusual property found in the vote counts.





See also


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