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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Syria Opens up Presidential Elections to More Parties

Syria will now allow candidates from multiple parties to run for president. 

Syria's parliament unanimously passed a law Thursday allowing candidates from multiple parties to run for president. 

The Baath Party has been the only party in the country since a coup in 1963. This law opens the first possibility for an opposition party to contest the regime. 

Despite the apparent opportunities the law could bring to opposition parties, there are some restrictions in the law that prohibit certain citizens from running.

"Some of the provisions are normal provisions," said Professor Berj Boyiajan of the USC Gould School of Law, "like requiring citizenship, requiring [that] a person [not have been] convicted of [terrorist acts]." 

"However, the way it's framed somehow excludes a certain class of people, like when they have to be a citizen permanently living in Syria for ten years, that excludes a certain class of people, especially the opposition, who were out of the country for decades."

The election law is part of a new constitution created in March 2012 as a gesture of reform to calm the growing violence in the country. However, the opposition party dismissed the constitution as superficial.

"Each side is trying to get land, to kill the other. This is civil war," said Boyiajan. 

President Bashar Assad has made no formal announcement that he plans to seek re-election when his seven-year term officially ends in four months. 

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