Syrian President Bashar Assad has won a third term in office with 88.7 percent of the vote.
Some Syrians celebrated with fireworks and gunfire, while millions of others — displaced across the border, confined to towns blockaded by extremists, living in rebel-held territory — didn’t join the festivities. Nor did the 150,000 people who’ve been killed in Syria’s worsening civil war.
The election was an insulting charade — the British Foreign Office called it “a grotesque parody of democracy,” and the United States and many of its allies have issued similar denunciations.
Voting took place only in areas controlled by Assad, reports of coercion were widespread, and absentee voting in neighboring Lebanon was largely fraudulent. Many of the Syrians interviewed in Lebanon admitted to voting for Assad because they were afraid of being banned from re-entering Syria.
In the Syrian Baathist newspaper al-Thawa, the editorial pages were rife with unthinking, pro-Assad propaganda — one title reads, “Congratulations to the commander and the people” while another excitedly proclaims, “This is Syria!” What a reminder.
This “election” is worse than a travesty. It’s a degrading confirmation of Assad’s dogged commitment to suppressing and slaughtering the people of Syria. It’s a reminder that he isn’t going anywhere.