Thursday, April 19, 2007


Campaign season is in full bloom across Syria. Candidates for the People's Council (national parliament) and their supporters have covered nearly every available surface – walls, trees, fences, light poles – with posters bearing their likenesses. Handmade banners hang above busy streets and across traffic circles. After a windy day, their message is lost in twists and furls. One Syrian friend dismissed the proliferation as an eye-sore.

As opposed to campaign posters in the West – where a name is often the image – political marketing in Syria always features a photo of the candidate. Sartorial choices may help potential voters choose: turban or business suit; head scarf or blonde highlights.

The parliament is elected every four years, and although minor party candidates may run, they are required by law to accept the leadership of the Baath Party. A majority of the 250 seats are guaranteed for the National Patriotic Front, which is comprised of Baath Party candidates and their allies.

The election is Sunday.