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Syria Government


Politics of Syria takes place in a framework of a parliamentary republic, whereby the power is in the hands of the President of Syria and the ruling Ba'ath Party. Officially, Syria is a parliamentary republic. In reality, however, it is an authoritarian regime that exhibits only the forms of a democratic system. Political opposition to the president is not tolerated. Syria has been under a state of emergency since 1963. Syrian governments have justified the state of emergency by the state of war which continues to exist with Israel and by continuing threats posed by terrorist groups.

The Syrian constitution vests the Ba'ath Party (formally the Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party) with leadership functions in the state and society and provides broad powers to the president. The president, approved by referendum for a 7-year term, is also Secretary General of the Ba'ath Party and leader of the National Progressive Front. The president has the right to appoint ministers, to declare war and states of emergency, to issue laws (except in the case of emergency, which requires ratification by the People's Council), to declare amnesty, to amend the constitution, and to appoint civil servants and military personnel.

Along with the National Progressive Front, the president decides issues of war and peace and approves the state's 5-year economic plans. The National Progressive Front also acts as a forum in which economic policies are debated and the country's political orientation is determined. However, because of Ba'ath Party dominance, the National Progressive Front has traditionally exercised little independent power.

The People's Council (Majlis al-Sha'ab) has 250 members elected for a four year term in 15 multi-seat constituencies, in which 167 seats are guaranteed for the National Progressive Front. Syria is a single-party state. This means that only one political party, the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party is legally allowed to hold effective power. Although minor parties are allowed, they are legally required to accept the leadership of the dominant party and are member of the front.

The Syrian constitution of 1973 requires that the president be Muslim but does not make Islam the state religion. Islamic jurisprudence, however, is required to be the main source of legislation. The judicial system in Syria is an amalgam of Ottoman, French, and Islamic laws, with three levels of courts: courts of first instance, courts of appeals, and the constitutional court, the highest tribunal. In addition, religious courts handle questions of personal and family law. The Ba'ath Party emphasizes socialism and secular Arabism. Although Ba'ath Party doctrine seeks to build national rather than ethnic identity, ethnic, religious and regional allegiances remain important in Syria.


Country name
conventional long form: Syrian Arab Republic
conventional short form: Syria
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Arabiyah as Suriyah
local short form: Suriyah
former: United Arab Republic (with Egypt)

Government type
republic under an authoritarian military-dominated regime

name: Damascus
geographic coordinates: 33 30 N, 36 18 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins 1 April; ends 30 September

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