Go back

Obstacles to a Free and Fair Presidential Election in Syria

LIVE ON ZOOM: 14 October, 2020, 15:00—16:30 CET, (16:00–17:30 Beirut)

Syrian presidential elections are scheduled for 2021. President Bashar al-Assad and his close confidants have said that they will go ahead with the elections without a new constitution and irrespective of whether they meet the standards of the political process outlined in Security Council Resolution 2254.

Holding a fair presidential election would require many legislative changes, and new mechanisms to allow internally displaced persons and refugees to vote en masse. Adding to the complications at a practical level are the opaque and questionable voter rolls and a lack of appropriate voting procedures. Additionally, the political and security environment inside Syria would need to change significantly. Voters would need to feel that the election process is safe, fair, and legitimate. These conditions do not presently exist and achieving them requires far more than minor amendments to the electoral law and voting mechanisms. There is also a need to consider the role of elections as part of a successful peace or transition process. Legitimizing elections prematurely would likely do more harm than good.    

What precisely would a fair election in Syria look like? What are the voting options available for those residing outside Syria? What are the practical tasks and timelines required for achieving a free and fair election in Syria—decoupled from arbitrary timelines? Join us on Wednesday, 14 October from 15:00-16:30 CET (16:00–17:30 Beirut) to discuss the upcoming presidential election in Syria. The discussion will be held on Zoom in English with simultaneous interpretation to Arabic. To join, please register for the event here.

This event is being held in collaboration with the Carnegie Middle East Center.


  • Assaad Al-Achi, Executive director of Baytna Syria.
  • Sead Alihodzic, Senior Programme manager with the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.
  • Dima Moussa, Member of the Syrian Opposition Coalition.
  • Vladimir Pran, Senior Technical Advisor for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.
  • Emma Beals, Senior Advisor at the European Institute of Peace and independent consultant focused on Syria.