Jun 03, 2014 | ASSAD

Syria: Democracy In The Time Of Mortar Shelling

He promised to do so and he has indeed done so. Presidential elections are under way today under the auspices of Assad's regime in the mortar-blitzed country of the Levant, renown for its deconstructivism-inspired urban planning.  Lest the skeptics among  you infer that the election is a farcical ploy for the beleaguered leader to strengthen his authority amidst the instability of civil war and propagandize the regime's improved chances of winning or at least hanging on, be aware that these elections are more democratic than ever!

 

Of course, given that the political baseline in Syria is absolute tyranny, a marked improvement in the democracy index is not that hard to achieve. When one has reached   the proverbial rock bottom, well, the only way is up (terms & conditions apply, namely there is always the possibility of digging an even deeper hole to crawl down to if per chance one feels threatened by Alawi carnivorous crawlies descending). But let us not be party poopers but instead try to appreciate the tentative, timid steps of Syrian democracy ascending slowly from the deep, pitch-black pit down where  she was confined in, almost since birth some 70 years ago.

 

Most importantly for the first time there will be more than one name in the ballot for beleaguered voters to chose from. Considering that so far there was just one name to choose from, and that consumer choice in general was never a prominent feature of Syrian society (from the product range in the local market, to the available, sanctioned TV channels to their pick of holiday destinations abroad, though that last one could change now that Crimea is open for business again), the current three choices facing Syrian voters may cause those unprepared for this cornucopia sudden symptoms ranging from feelings of dislocation and heart-pounding to panic attacks and catatonia.

 

Thankfully, the Assad regime, foreseeing this potential pitfall, has for convenience marked the correct choice on the ballots in a clearly legible manner (at the same time also catering for the short-sighted). Additionally, volunteers are on standby to welcome those citizens that reach the polling stations without having been shot at, bombed, bludgeoned or arrested on their way there, offer them a cup of tea and help them cast their vote in a democratically prudent way. They will also cast votes for those apathetic or dead that didn't make it.

 

A last minute shortage of pens, clearly a sinister ploy by the insurgent enemies of the State to disrupt the election process, was quickly and deftly dealt with by the election commission by allowing voters to prick their fingers with handy pins provided and mark their preference in blood. An added bonus to this method, apart from the potent symbolism of the sacrificial nature of democracy, is that DNA analysis can identify those who, probably due to a temporary stroke or  instantaneous lapse of judgment, voted the wrong way so they can promptly be re-educated.

 

Another marked improvement at this election process is the fact that expatriates are entitled to vote.  All they need to do is register with their local embassy, surrender their passports & their firstborn (if applicable) and disclose some pertinent information (for statistical purposes), like bank accounts, contact details for all relatives back home,  political affiliation and blood type.

 

The above is of course not applicable for those indolent vacationers currently lounging by the millions in sunny Lebanon, decked out in special retreats, who shamelessly purport to being "refugees", but who are in truth cranky naysayers objecting for no good reason the government's ambitious plans of urban regeneration (though creative construction) and political redistricting (through forced relocations). The only just retribution for such unpatriotic behavior is for their vote to be re-allocated and so it shall.

 

Syrian citizens are eagerly awaiting the results in their bomb shelters.