1. IN THEORY

    Syria Approves Open Elections

    Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks with children during his visit to displaced Syrians in the town of Adra in the Damascus countryside March 12, 2014, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA. State television said Assad inspected a shelter for people displaced by fighting in Adra, northeast of central Damascus and was partly captured by rebels three months ago. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CONFLICT CIVIL UNREST) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - RTR3GRWZ

    Sana/Reuters

    The next election in Syria will technically be open to other candidates besides President Bashar al-Assad, as the country’s parliament unanimously approved a law on Thursday allowing for multiple candidates. In the past, under both Bashar and his late father, Hafez, voters were only allowed to vote “yes” or “no” on the continuing rule of the Assads. The change came after a referendum in 2012 on a new constitution, which was dismissed by the opposition as an empty gesture during the civil war. The new law requires that candidates to have lived in Syria for 10 consecutive years, be born to Syrian parents, and not have any other nationality. Assad has not announced if he intends to seek reelection, but he has hinted at the likelihood. The opposition is opposed to elections being held in the current climate, in which more than 140,000 people have been killed, and over 2 million have fled the country.

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