Pro-Assad media recruits Syrian stars to promote elections
April 29, 2014
FUNNY OR DIE: A series of pro-government videos released on Sunday features prominent Syrian actors promoting the country’s June presidential elections under the rubric “Syria votes” in what would be the first contested elections.
“They say that every steed sometimes stumbles, and today Syria, like any other thoroughbred, is stumbling,” says Mustafa al-Khani—known to Syrians as a-Namis from the hugely popular television soap opera Bab al-Hara—in one of the clips.
“I hope you choose the knight that you find appropriate to lead Syria through this challenging terrain at this challenging time,” al-Khani continues. “Your vote will help build a better Syria for tomorrow.”
The promotional videos first aired one day before incumbent President Bashar al-Assad stepped forward as the seventh and final candidate for elections slated to begin June 3. Last week the Syrian parliament announced it would begin receiving applications from prospective candidates.
Candidates must collect signatures from 35 of Syria’s 250 parliamentarians before officially being nominated.
Promotions for the elections have been accompanied by shows of support from Assad’s backers, such as a large poster outside Homs’ Bab Amr neighborhood that reads “We renew our allegiance to Assad, the leader.”
A pro-Assad election poster stands at the entrance of the Bab Amro neighborhood of Homs. Photo courtesy of Sam Dagher.
The electoral preparations have been widely condemned by international observers, with Western officials calling the process a “parody of democracy” and the United Nations warning that elections in June will undermine efforts to move toward a political solution.
A new electoral law announced earlier this year stipulates that the electoral process include multiple candidates, guaranteeing that the June elections will be contested after Assad won his last two seven-year terms after running unopposed.