As a part of the various civilian activities which are led by the center of civil society and democracy in Syria (CCCDS), a four-observer team went to the camp in 16-1-2012 to supervise the elections and the procedures of voting in the five electoral centers where the voters were able to choose their candidates for the positions of governors and their assistants.
These elections come nowadays as a first step to spread the concept of election among Syrian people, which is considered to be an essential basement to establish the democratic practicing among refugees.
The elections didn’t match the known criteria due to the limited participation, and its confining to the refugees in Killis camp only. But it did express the voters’ will, who participated it in spite of some existing troubles which affect the primary trials.
Results of the observers team of Killis camp elections
Since its arrival in the camp, the team has watched the administrative and regulatory preparations, and observed the procedures of voting and votes sorting. The team members also met with the supervisors, the voters, candidates, and with many representatives for media.
This is a summary of the team’s notes and observations about the elections in Killis camp:
– Concerning the regulatory aspect: the impartiality conditions were met, where there were a secret room and transparent ballot boxes. The supervisors didn’t interfere in the voting .and also there were interpreters in each center to deliver the voters questions to the supervisor committee.
– The regulation of the elections were based to the Turkish election regulations, so the candidate is forbidden from entering the voting center. Instead, a representative for him is allowed to watch the voting procedures. The team noticed that each election center acted individually about this, and the adherence to this law differed from a center to another. Where the candidate stayed inside the center all the time in some centers, while they were forbidden from being in other centers.
– 350 Turkish employees -from the crews that are responsible of the camp- were allowed to participate as voters.
– In one center, the team noticed the existence of an electoral list by the name of (Syrian Turkish Friendship) at the door and on the table as a publicity. Noticing that this wasn’t observed in any other center.
– One candidate complained of the conscious absence of the ballot papers of his electoral list from the secret room, while he wasn’t allowed to enter the center according to the election regulation.
– The camp administration put pressures on the voters to participate, by broadcasting on the speakers inside the camp some messages about the retribution for not participating (like banishment, transferring to another camp, ID deprivation , or cutting the purveyance credit)
– The team noticed lack of information among voters about the elections and the goal of it. Because there wasn’t any written instructions about the voting procedure. The candidates also didn’t knew for sure their missions in case of winning the election. These information wasn’t available for media neither.
– Concerning women’s participation, the team noticed that it was good considering the general weak participation, where it was almost equal to the men’s participation.
The team recommendation for other elections in future:
– Election educating program: the voters’ knowledge about their rights and the way to practice these rights is very essential. The team noticed that there was no campaigns about the importance of the elections, and the candidates don’t know their missions or duties in case of winning. So CCCDS recommends holding campaigns and programs of election educating.
– Forming an information center subordinated to the main regulatory committee of elections: as it was noticeable the lack of information and the absence of its sources. So the CCCDS recommends forming a database to provide both media and observation teams with this information.
The Electoral regulations
– The elections in Killis refugee camp relayed on the Turkish electoral regulations that is used to elect the city councils members by direct voting.
Distribution of the seats:
Primarily , the camp which contains about 15 thousands refugees was divided to 6 sectors, for each one, a govern and two assistants will be elected through direct voting, by choosing a list that contains them.
There were 60 candidates through 20 electoral lists. 18 of them were women, 3 for the position of the governs and 15 as assistants.
Management of the elections
The Turkish authorities which are responsible for the camp administration, supervised the management of the elections, through many electoral committees in the centers. The committee consists of the director of the electoral center, two employees, one of them is Syrian, and an interpreter (most of them are teachers in the camp’s schools).
Concerning security and guarding : no accidents have been reported during the elections, due to the existence of police and security forces in front of each center to regulate the entry of voters and to guard the ballot boxes.
The electoral procedure
5 electoral centers were open for the voters, who counts 6500 refugees from the residents of the camp and 350 Turkish employee who were allowed to vote, from 9 AM to 4 PM.
The ballot period were extended by the electoral committee for more than an hour and a half, in order to give the voter enough time to participate.
The non central sorting system was applied after closing ballot boxes. This system means that the boxes were opened by the supervisor committee in the center, in the presence of the candidates and media representatives.
The participation ratio didn’t exceed 50% in the four centers that been observed by the team during the sorting, despite of prolonging the poll time to 5:30 PM.
Registration of voters is necessary to know who is allowed to vote and at the same time it assure the voter’s right. It’s also a good step in the way of ballot impartiality. The number of registered voters exceeded 6500, from the residents of the camp who counts for 15 thousands, depending on the identity cards that were given to the refugees.
In spite of the simplicity of the electoral procedure that was held in Killis refugee camp, the weak participation by the voters, and the weakness points, it is still an important experience on the way of introducing the electoral culture to the Syrian people, which is an essential crutch in the democratic transition. And it should be developed as a pattern of expressing the citizen’s will in choosing who represents him in the administration of the country and it’s institutions in the future
Center of Civil society and Democracy in Syria