Reading what the Syrian official press has written about the constitutional referendum last Sunday, one would think it is about a referendum in perfect referenda-addicted Switzerland !
On Syrian state TV and on other pro-regime media such as Dunia TV, it was non-stop "We Love The New Constitution" vox populi and analysts. Of course that came on top of the usual non-stop "We Love Bashar Al Assad" vox populi and analysts.
When you live in a dictatorship you automatically know what you are expected to say on state TV. You also know the price of not saying what you are supposed to say. And if you did say anything that was not within the pre-defined political line, you would not be on TV anyway.
In recent times live reporting has intensified on Syrian state TV, becoming one of the many ways the Syrian regime - like other regimes - utilises in its brainwashing attempts to make it look like "Everyboy Loves Bashar" !
However .. some things here and there did not work out during the live coverage. For example voters had no clue when they were asked what is it they liked about the new constitution !
The video below is probably the most famous video of all. It shows a lady who says on TV, live, that her sons are abroad but she brought the Family Card (it is where all family members are registered) with her "in order to" .. That is when she is interrupted so she doesn't complete the sentence: "vote on their behalf".. and another man says he wants to speak (to save the day?) but somehow forgets what he wanted to say. Hilarious!
Another video includes an interview with one of the heads of the electoral committees inside a polling station. He seems to have misunderstood the meaning of "transparency". It looks like he thought it meant that you know what everyone's vote is :) and of course he reassures the journalist, live, that everyone has voted YES.. It is also obvious he is not speaking spontaneously. He is clearly reading from a paper, nervously !
There is even a facebook page created by those who oppose the new constitution https://www.facebook.com/Syriaforall1 and many relate their own experiences such as this Syrian who boycotted the vote, did not go to the polls only to find out that her name was included in a list of voters who voted YES, and the list included everyone in her neighbourhood! Another Syrian did go to vote but was told to vote YES even though he wanted to vote NO. Others reported that their ID's had been taken away from them by the army or the security forces on the street a day or two before the referendum and they were told to go pick them up at the polling stations !
Of course many Syrians did vote YES willingly. Many Syrians do support Assad. But it is difficult to imagine that a democratic free election could possibly take place under the same regime whose presidential elections have been a mere referendum on the continuity of an Assad, whether father or son. A regime that has always rigged elections and punished citizens who did not vote YES on presidential referenda. Add to that the on-going relentless crackdown on activists and protesters anywhere, coupled with an unwithered brutal military campaign by the Syrian Army against rebelling areas in Homs, Hama, Idlib and other places in Syria.
How on earth can anyone claim to organise a successful democratic vote in a country where up to a 100 or more people get killed every day over democracy?
Special thanks to Tamara the @BlondeSyriana