Elections Survey Results

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Elections are Meaningless if Displaced people Can’t Run and Vote: Survey of Displaced Syrians

With the elections issue occupying lately the central stage of the political conversation along with the presumed effort to write a new constitution, the SACD engaged in a direct dialogue with internally displaced Syrians, refugees and diasporas in order to better understand what displaced Syrians think about elections: the legitimacy, viability, concerns and challenges.

The SACD always insisted that the voice of displaced Syrians, and all Syrians, must be taken into account when deciding the future of the country, and that this voice has been absent in the last few years and recent political developments.

It is paramount to always remember that the key element of legitimacy in any future elections in Syria – apart from the process itself – is how Syrians view this process and their trust and will to participate in such a process fundamental to the future of the country. That’s why, the voice of the Syrians must be articulated and must be heard, whether about future elections or constitution.


The direct engagements with displaced Syrians and the outreach activities addressing the elections issue were coupled with a comprehensive survey amongst 500 displaced Syrians conducted between September and December 2020. The SACD strived through a team of experienced professionals in its Data Collection and Analysis Unit to follow a methodical approach in designing the questionnaire and the survey sample to achieve a high level of representativeness. The survey results displayed here are a complement to full briefing paper about the elections titled “Safe Environment Before Everything Else: Why Elections in Syria Are Illegitimate without Political Solution”.


The questionnaire is organised into three thematic blocks: the first deals with past experience of Syrians with elections since this experience will influence how Syrians would perceive any future elections, and is of a great value for us to better interpret the results of the rest of the survey. The second block deals with the conditions and the changes that displaced Syrians would need to see to consider any future elections legitimate. Some questions within this block address how displaced Syrians would see elections under the current circumstances. The third block addresses participants’ intentions of participation in the elections and their sources of information regarding the elections process.

As is the standard practice in SACD’s surveys, the questionnaire combines open-ended questions and multiple-choice questions with predefined answers offering respondents the possibility to choose and rank among several options. An optional space was provided to elaborate on the answer where appropriate.

 Survey Sample

Invitations were sent to the participants through a secure medium explaining the context of the survey, the process and timeline, and a full “informed consent” was presented to the participants, with interviews conducted in person. As in all previous SACD surveys, the geographic distribution, gender, age and education where amongst the reference criteria in selecting the sample.

Profile of Participants


  • Male 72.1%
  • Female 27.9%

Geographical Distribution

  • Syrian (IDPs) 26.0%
  • Lebanon 20.0%
  • Turkey 46.0%
  • Europe 8.0%


  • 18-25 years 17.0%
  • 26-42 years 64.0%
  • 43-60 years 13.0%
  • Above 60 years 6.0%


  • Prep-School degree 13.0%
  • Secondary School degree 20.0%
  • University degree 37.0%
  • Higher University degree 5.0%
  • Diploma 19.0%
  • No education 6.0%

Survey Results

Have you voted in any elections in Syria before displacement?
Yes, out of free will and conviction 4.8%
Yes, I was pressured or forced to do it 53.5%
No, I didn’t think that elections were fair: 28.1%
No, because of logistics 12.7%
Didn’t answer 1%
Do you think elections in Syria before 2011 were real and fair?
Not fair or legitimate at all 84.8%
Legitimate elections with some irregularities 4.8%
Legitimate and fair elections 0.8%
I don’t know 9.1%
Other answers 0.6%
Have you taken part in any elections after displacement (local, parliamentary, presidential)?
  • No 98.4%
  • Yes 1.6%
What is your impression about the 2014 presidential elections and 2020 parliamentary ones?
Displaced people could not vote 52%
Displaced people could not run for office 43.2%
Votes were bought 28.8%
Elections were rigged and winners were predetermined 48.2%
Are you interested (as a displaced person) in voting in any upcoming elections under the current conditions?
  • No 47.9%
  • Yes 7.5%
  • I don’t know 44.6%
Why are you not interested in voting?
I do not rust that elections will be fair 85.5%
Personal reasons 5.4%
Not interested in what happens in Syria 1.2%
Others 7.9%
Under which circumstances you would trust the elections (choose top 3)?
Locally organized with international supervision 80.2%
Positive changes in the security situation and the grip of the security forces 79.6%
Constitutional and legal reforms 76.6%
How important is it to have fair and legitimate elections for you that would guarantee displaced people participation?
Very important in order to achieve democracy, and it was one of the main reasons for the peaceful uprise 57%
Important to a certain degree: elections are just one part of the solution for the future of Syria 17%
Very important, it is the key for peace in Syria 12.5%
Not important, no elections will be fair 9.9%
Not important, I don’t believe elections will help 3.5%
Others 0.1%
Which parties do you trust to organize elections and handle your personal information (choose top 3)?
International supervision (UN orgs) 49.8%
Syrian government after a political solution 42.2%
Syrian government after full political transition 41.4%
If you are interested in voting, would you feel safe doing it at Syrian ambassies?
  • No 82.1%
  • Yes 17.9%
Do you consider legitimate any elections that exclude displaced people from voting or running for office?
  • No 97.0%
  • Yes 3.0%
What is your source of information about elections?
Social media 51.8%
Friends 39.6%
News and media outlets 32%
I don’t have a trusted source 21.6%
Official sources 14.4%
International official sources 11%
Others 0.8%
Do you trust the information that you currently have about elections process and conditions?
  • No 70.1%
  • Yes 29.9%

The survey results displayed above with other components are fully discussed in a briefing paper about the elections titled “Safe Environment Before Everything Else: Why Elections in Syria Are Illegitimate without Political Solution”.

Read the full briefing here: