We should soon be getting the results of Syria’s referendum on Bashar al-Assad’s draft constitution. This is a big day. Yes, the Syrian Army spent the weekend shelling Homs and Idlib, and yes, the opposition(s) called for a boycott of the vote, but I feel the results will be revealing, one way or another.
I’ll update this page with results as they are available, and some abbreviated commentary. In the meantime, in case you’re interested in what this new constitution is all about, the only primer I’ve been able to find in the 5 minutes I have allotted for non-dissertation work today is this Q&A piece at Al-Jazeera English. Among the revelations (according to the lawyer they interviewed):
- While the Constitution creates a multi-party system, each political party is only allowed to have a budget of around $35,000. [See below]
- Bashar gets to run again (twice)
- The security services continue to enjoy immunity and can detain people at will
- No one who has spent the last 10 years out of Syria can run for president (that means all the exiled politicos are ineligible)
- The President can fire the Prime Minister without parliamentary approval
- Muslim Brotherhood (and any other religious party, like a Syrian version of Hizbullah for example) remains illegal
If anyone else can find a good discussion of the draft constitution, please stick it in the comment section and I’ll put it up on the main page. I’d like to have more insight on this document besides a single piece from AJ.
Update: Courtesy of Rime Allaf is this citizen’s amusing recipe for a tabkha dusturiyyeh, prepared by a committee of chefs in a pressure cooker… (This guy has a career on Bab al-7aarah…)
Update: Syrian state media (SANA) is reporting 89.4% approval of the draft constitution. Total number of votes cast: 8,376,447 out of 14,589,954, or 57.4%
Update: I’m grateful to reader Parviziyi (who likes to set me straight on all matters Syrian) for pointing out that the business about each political party’s budget not exceeding $35,000 per year is complete nonsense. In fact, the new political parties law stipulates that individual donations cannot exceed $35,000 per person, per year. I’m all in favor of that, and I wish Lebanon would follow suit.
Here’s a link to an English translation of the Constitution.