This week war-torn Syria took to the voting polls and as expected the result was a landslide victory for Syrian President Bashar Assad, ushering in a fourth seven-year term after he came to power in the year 2000 after the death of his father Hafez, who had been the Syrian Arab Republic's first strongman Baath ruler going back to 1971.
The results were announced from Damascus early Thursday (local time), making it official that Assad is to rule Syria through at least 2028 - having received 95% of the vote in an election widely denounced as a sham and 'illegitimate' by Western leaders, as well the anti-Assad jihadist groups in control of Idlib.
Out of 18 million eligible voters (in government areas), a little over 14 million participated (78% participation according to Syrian government figures). While the Syrian state urged the participation of the over five million refugees currently outside the country, it appears this only happened on any significant scale in neighboring Lebanon.
Alongside the armed insurgent jihadist groups obviously boycotting the election, the US-backed Kurdish areas of the oil-rich northeast which are still under American troop occupation also banned the election.
Overnight upon the election results being announced, celebrations broke out in Damascus and other cities with strong loyalist support like Tartus, with fireworks being seen over the Syrian capital and guns being fired into the air.
Perhaps the most interesting line of commentary and reporting came via an AFP journalist on hand during the Syrian election:
Syria's Bashar al-Assad said Western criticism of Wednesday's presidential election has "zero value" as he cast his ballot in a Damascus suburb.
Commenting on US and EU criticism branding the vote "neither free nor fair," Assad said: "Your opinions have zero value", an AFP journalist reported.
The US and EU had on Tuesday issued a joint statement saying, "This fraudulent election does not represent any progress towards a political settlement."
While the Assad victory was fully expected, the once in seven year voting process within the context of the war which raged since 2011 has fundamentally become a moment where Syrians in government areas (now the majority of the country) take to the streets en masse to show support for the state, and simultaneously their "defiance" to West-backed regime change efforts which sought to overthrow Assad.