As part of his Sunday evening interview on state television, Syrian President Bashar Assad announced that he expects the nation to hold parliamentary elections in February of next year, calling it the “political” solution to the pro-democracy protests.
Though free elections might well please many it is unclear how free they will actually be. Syria has had regular parliamentary elections for years (most recently in early 2007), but with a constitution that guarantees the ruling Ba’athist Party a strong majority of seats, the votes are mostly an exercise in futility.
The regime has taken one step toward improving that process somewhat, however, allowing opposition parties to actual exist. Assad also gave lip service to the idea of revising the constitution further, though it was unclear how this would impact the mandate for a Ba’athist supermajority in parliament.
Such reforms, if serious, would likely have satisfied a number of the protesters four or five months ago, but after months of violence and nearly 2,000 protesters slain, there is general skepticism that anything Assad offers at this point is sincere.
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