As'ad AbuKhalil, "The Road to Syrian Democracy: A New Political Party Law to End One-Party Rule"
A new political party law has been drafted in Syria and is now posted online for public debate. It is due for ratification by parliament next August. If it passes, the law would effectively end one-party rule in Syria, which started when the Baathists came to power, through military coup, back in March 1963. . . . Parties with a religious, tribal, or ethnic agenda, however, will not be allowed to operate in Syria. This clause was meant to prevent the rise of Islamic groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, who have been outlawed since they waged war against the state back in 1979-1982. . . . Parties can recruit members within Syria and among Syrians in the Diaspora, but they cannot receive funds from non-Syrian sources. The funding of parties comes from membership fees, investments, and donations from within Syria. Multiple donations cannot be made by the same source, the new law says, and cannot exceed 2 million SP/year. All premises, correspondences, telephone calls, and publications will be immune from the security services, and cannot be monitored unless approved by a court warrant. Additionally, the new law says that all parties need to be given equal access to all Syrian media, both the private and state-run -- which is also groundbreaking since, traditionally, it was only the Baath that had access to Syrian TV and Radio. Finally, any party is entitled to issue its own publication, without even applying for a license. It gets that right automatically once the political party is licensed by the Party Affairs Committee.