Istanbul, Turkey - The Day After, a Syrian civil society organization working to support a democratic transition in Syria, conducted a survey study, In order to identify Syrians's views and orientations towards the constitution, since the issue of the Syrian constitution today is one of the most problematic issues. The political orientations of some of the major powers remain the same in terms of their disregard for Syrians and their exclusion of them from participating in shaping the future of their country and determining the precepts of the transitional phase. So much was evident with the Russian leadership’s preparation of a draft constitution guaranteeing the head of state has continued control of the army and security forces. As a result, 40 Syrian organizations and bodies signed a statement confirming that Syrians themselves must write their country’s constitution and reject any talk of a completed constitution for the current phase. They called for the preparation of a constitutional declaration or a temporary constitution focusing on constitutional principles and precepts governing the transitional period.
The issue of the constitution remained one of the most prominent topics of the Syrian talks in all rounds of negotiations in Geneva as one of the four baskets which the Special Envoy identified as the axes of negotiation between the opposition and the Syrian regime.
This issue is gaining more importance today after the Sochi conference on Syria, and the increasing talks about the constitutional commission starting its work on this regard facilitated by UN special envoy office, which is expected to play a significant role in shaping political solution in Syria on its outcomes.
What do the Syrians want for the transitional phase or which permanent constitution does Syria need? This survey aims to contribute to providing answers to these two questions.
This survey aims to contribute to providing answers to these two questions. Recognizing these orientations and perspectives contributes to:
· Strengthening Syrian participation in the drafting and preparation of their country’s constitution, and not only at a later stage of referendum.
· Enabling the drafting committee of the next constitution to arrive at agreements which take the views and positions of Syrians into account, respecting their wishes and aspirations and ensuring the establishment of a state of rights and laws, for which Syrians have given everything.
· Enabling political forces and civic bodies to organize effective campaigns to garner the widest possible support for the constitution when it comes to referendum.
The Day After conducted a social survey of 1958 respondents (924 men and 1034 women) during the period between February 24th and May 11th, 2017. A team of field researchers conducted face-to-face interviews using the questionnaire in six Syrian provinces and in Turkey. Despite the numerous difficulties faced during the data-collection phase of fieldwork under the conditions of Syria’s current, ongoing war and population displacement. In Daraa and al-Suwayda, the team was forced to stop the collection of data due to fighting and the general security situation at the time of this work in these two provinces, causing their omission in the sample. Thus, intent on guaranteeing their presence, we returned as soon as conditions permitted (after entering southern Syria during a de-escalation agreement) and drew a new sample from these two provinces only. This was between September 14th and October 19th, 2017.
This Survey is divided into five axes:
The first: seeks to identify the the most important priorities upon which the negotiations should focus, in the opinion of the respondents, and try to determine the status of the constitution among them, in addition to identifying the general orientation regarding the aforementioned dispute (permanent constitution/ constitutional declaration in the transitional period) as well as the path which should be followed in writing the constitution.
Second: seeks to explore the respondents’ preferred system of government (parliamentary, parliamentary-presidential, presidential)
Third: this chapter discusses controversial issues regarding the relationship of religion to the State and its identity.
Fourth: examines the issue of decentralization in the future of Syria and its presence in the next constitution.
Fifth and final: it seeks to determine the general principles and precepts that should guide the work of the next constitution-drafting committee.