[Marxism] Communist Parties win 11 Seats in Syrian Parliamentary Elections

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jun 17 08:00:47 MDT 2012

Communist Parties win 11 Seats in Syrian Parliamentary Elections

(Published in a shorter form in People's Voice June 16-30, 2012)

By S. Saleh Waziruddin

The first Syrian parliamentary elections under the new constitution, 
passed by 90% of voters in a referendum with 57% turnout, concluded in 
May with seat gains for Syria’s Communist Parties. The elections had a 
turnout of 51% (active duty military and police were ineligible) and 
voters elected 250 representatives from 16 geographic constituencies. 
The majority of seats are reserved for category “A”, required to be 
workers or peasants as defined by Labour laws, and the remaining 
representatives are elected as category “B” from the other classes.

The Communist Party of Syria (Bagdash) ran 30 candidates (13 in category 
A) in 15 constituencies and elected 8 (3 from category A), an increase 
of 3 from the previous parliament, while the Communist Party of Syria 
(Faisal AKA Unified) elected 3 representatives, reporting that its 
candidates’ individual votes amounted to 13% of the total, with the most 
popular candidate winning 300,000 votes. Voters voted for individual 
candidates but were provided with a list at the polling station called 
the “National Unity List” with candidates from parties in the National 
Progressive Front (NPF), which includes the two Communist Parties as 
well as the Arab Socialist Ba’ath (Renaissance) Party and 8 other 
parties. Only 41 of those elected were incumbents from the previous 
parliament, and more than 80 independents were elected.

The results announcement was delayed in some areas because of appeals 
filed about violations of the election law, and re-counts were conducted 
in some polling stations. The Communist Party of Syria (B) reported over 
21 violations in Aleppo including the names of Communist candidates 
being crossed out from the National Unity List at one polling station. 
The CPS(B) filed two appeals to the Supreme Constitutional Court about 
these violations, one of which challenged the right of a winning 
candidate to be classified in category A because he was a lawyer, 
although a law professor.

The Communist Party of Syria (F-U) criticized the new parliament for 
having only 12% (30) women, whereas previously women made up 18% of the 
legislature, and said it would have preferred the elections to be held 
under better circumstances because of the violence in the country which 
it said limited the turnout. The CPS(F-U) criticized some parties for 
boycotting the election, saying that it was an inappropriate tactic 
based on a miscalculation that the government would fall from the 
boycott and criticized these parties for continuing to take positions 
which “hinder every effort to resolve a consensual peaceful solution to 
the crisis, and encourage terrorist acts and calls for foreign 
intervention in all candour.” The Party also criticized the process of 
forming the joint electoral list, which in the past included 
consultation between the parties in the NPF and had the Front's name 
instead of "National Unity List", but said that it expects the new
  parliament to be a tool for progress.

A rival coalition to the NPF called the Popular Front for Change and 
Liberation (PFCL) is lead by Qadri Jamil who was one of the drafters of 
the new constitution. Jamil was elected as an independent but leads the 
People's Will Party (also the name of a 19th century Russian terrorist 
organization), which is the legal name of the National Committee for the 
Unity of Syrian Communists, formed after they were expelled from the CPS 
(B) under accusations of Trotskyism. The PFCL also includes a 1957 split 
of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party ("Intifada" or uprising), whose 
parent party is an NPF member, as well as independent legislators 
including some trade unionists. The PFLC appealed election results 
across Syria and has called for nullifying the vote. At the opening of 
the first session of the new parliament Jamil rose to a point of order 
and lead a walkout/boycott by the PFLC.

Six parties in neither the NPF or the PFCL ran 81 candidates but did not 
win any seats.

The first Communist to be elected in an Arab parliament was Khalid 
Bagdash in 1954, a Kurd who was a delegate to the Communist 
International (Comintern). During World War II Bagdash lead the national 
resistance against the Vichy French occupation of Syria. While many 
Communist Parties experienced splits in the 1989-1991 period of 
counter-revolutions in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, uniquely 
this division happened much earlier in Syria. In 1986 Bagdash, who was 
the leader of the Communist Party, criticized Gorbachev’s policies and 
what they meant for socialism including in Syria, and subsequently lead 
a split from the Party as the majority of the Central Committee under 
Yusuf Faisal agreed with Gorbachev's policies.

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