Syria 101: 4 attributes of Assad's authoritarian regime

How have authoritarian regimes remained in control so long in the Middle East? In Syria's case, a critical factor is the concentration of power in a single family, political party, and religious sect.

What type of government does Syria have?

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    Syria's President Bashar al-Assad delivers a speech to a new cabinet he named last week during a broadcast by Syrian state television in Damascus, in this file picture of a still image taken from video on April 16.
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Officially, Syria is classified as a parliamentary republic, as are neighboring Israel and Iraq. Decisionmaking power is divided between the president and the parliament.

But because Syria's executive branch holds the power to pick and choose what political parties can participate in the political process, effectively giving the Baath Party total control over parliament, this parliamentary republic is actually considered an authoritarian government. Article 8 of the Constitution stipulates that "the Arab Socialist Baath Party leads society and the state," with at least 167 seats of the 250-member parliament guaranteed for the National Progressive Front, a coalition of 10 mostly Baathist parities. The president has power to change the Constitution at will.

Source: US State Department

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