Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bashar al-Assad "wins" re-election

Against all odds, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has managed to win "re-election" in the non-existent race for the Presidency in Syria by the only-in-a-dictatorship margin of 97.6% of the vote. Interestingly enough, this is a marginal improvement over his first "election" where he succeeded his father, Hafez al-Assad, where junior only tallied 97.29% of the vote. I suppose we can infer that he's become .31% more popular during his first term?

There are idiots, especially here in the United States, who will point to a result like this and mistake it for genuine political legitimacy. Don't laugh - I heard people making this argument for the legitimacy of Saddam Hussein and Josef Stalin (ie, "why would 99% of the people vote for a dictator? You're just smearing them!"). It's a bit like asking why people would love pro-wrestling so much if they even suspected that it's fixed. I suppose we'll have to spell it for them:

Ahem. This election, like elections in any dictatorship, was a complete and deliberate farce. Bashar al-Assad's ruling Syrian Baath party is the only party allowed to compete in elections, and al-Assad was the only candidate to appear on this completely ridiculous ballot. Even the 2.4% that al-Assad "officially" lost is bogus, since blank ballots are simply discarded, and write in candidates are not allowed (or advisable - there's little in the way of ballot secrecy in dictatorships). al-Assad received 100% of the vote because, like so many elections in a dictatorship, it was only a formality to try and put on a veneer of respectability on al-Assad's otherwise completely unrepentant tyranny.

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