Constitutional referendum today
Around 14 million Syrians will be entitled to vote in a constitutional referendum today.
The move, announced several weeks ago, will allow people to vote for a change in the constitution which, if passed, will bring in multi-party elections (currently only the Ba’ath Party is recognised). Any future party could not be based on religion or regional interests. The new constitution will also allow for a president to serve up to two seven year terms, but that person must be a Muslim. The proposal is to hold elections within 90 days if the referendum is passed.
There are 13,835 polling stations to be opened nationwide from 7 a.m. local time, but with cities such as Homs still being heavily shelled it is difficult to see how the referendum will be conducted nationwide. Polling is likely to happen in quiet areas which, by their very nature, are probably areas that support the government.
The opposition has dismissed the referendum as an attempt to foll the international community. The international community has split along the usual lines, with Russia and China welcoming the move and the Western countries being largely sceptical.