Syrian presidential candidates agree on politics, disagree on economy

Syrian presidential candidates agree on politics, disagree on economy

The three contestants for the Syrian presidential elections share almost the same political vision, but have different opinions on how to salvage the country's ailing economy, Xinhua reported.

The two candidates for the presidency, Maher Hajjar and Hassan al-Nouri, didn't hide their admiration for the incumbent President Bashar Assad's management of the country's political crisis that has dragged on for more than three years, but they criticized the government's weak economic performance.

The presidential elections, slated for June 3, will be held in areas controlled by the government amid growing signs that Assad will win the vast majority of the votes.

The authorities said the vote will consolidate democracy. The West, however, described the election as a "farce" aimed at entrenching Assad's rule.

Assad came to power in 2000 after the death of his father, late President Hafez Assad, who ruled the country for 30 years.

The elections will be the first to be held in half a century as Syrians will vote for three contestants: Assad, al-Nouri and Hajjar. Previously, there were only referendums to support Assad or his late father, Hafez. Bashar got a 97.6 percent of the votes during the last seven-year-term referendum.

Electoral campaigns started on May 11 and would end 24 hours ahead of the voting. The three candidates have already put forth their electoral platforms that carry nearly the same political headlines with different visions on how to inject life into the collapsed economy.

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