11.472.157 out of almost 12 million voters registered in the country turned out in the referendum which was conducted in 13.904 ballot boxes on 27 May 2007 and which directed the public the following question: “Do you approve the Dr. Bashar Assad’s candidacy for President?” 11.199.445 voters cast vote of “Yes” and 19.653 voters cast vote of “No” and 253.059 votes were counted invalid. After the President Hafız Assad died on 10 June 2000, the article of the Syrian Constitution stipulating “the age limit of 40 to get elected as President was altered unanimously in the People’s Assembly session held urgently so that his son Bashar Assad could be elected as President in his place. According to the press reporting the age limit of 34 has been set to get elected as President and Bashar Assad who obtained 97.29 % votes has increased his votes this time. Meanwhile, the claims of irregularity and corruption by the dissident groups regarding the Presidential referendum remained on the agenda. However, it is reported that the boycotting calls made by the opposition groups operating outside the country were not effective in Syria in which the activities of all the opposition parties have been prevented in accordance with the emergency law which has been in effect since 1963. The Syrian Reform Party (SRP) which opposes the Baath Party stated that the turn-out rates were not reflecting the truth and that the presence of one single Presidential candidate is an anti-democratic practice. The Syrian Reform Party called for boycotting the referendum through a statement issued on 17 May 2007. Among those requesting the boycott of the referendum are included Arab Socialist Union, Syrian Democratic People’s Party, The Workers’ Revolutionary Party, Arab Socialist Movement and Democratic Socialist Arab Baath Party included in the National Democratic Movement (NDR). On the other hand; the reports are available that Ignatius HAZIM, the Patriarch IV. Antakya Greek Orthodox Church to which 55 % of the Syrian Christians belong ensured that the Christians that are 10 % of the population provide active support to B. ASSAD before and after the referendum. In the statements made by the opposition groups; it is stated that although the local, regional and international election observers were reportedly not allowed to the election centers and the number of registered voters was about 7.6 million, this figure was announced as 11.4 million on 27 May and almost 4 million unregistered votes were cast. Also, it is stated by the citizens that “many ballot boxes were filled with the votes of “yes”, many ineligible children were made to cast vote, the public officers and students were forced to cast vote of “yes” and those who were carrying out their military service were taken to the ballot boxes as a whole.” In the political circles which make statements regarding the subject; it is criticized that the system is “one man hegemony” and that no “balance and control” mechanism exists in the country.
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