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Election silence

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Election silence,[1] blackout period,[2][3][4] pre-election silence, electoral silence, or campaign silence[5] is a ban on political campaigning or media coverage of a general election, before or during that election.



In some jurisdictions, such as Slovenia, Poland and Nepal, it is forbidden to try to convince people to vote for a specific candidate or political party on the day of election. Some jurisdictions have declared that, legally, election silence is in violation of law regarding freedom of speech. It is however used in some of the world's democracies "in order to balance out the campaigning and maintain a free voting environment".[5] Whereas in others, a more limited form of 'silence' operates where the media are prevented from commenting on campaign activities on polling day, and/or publication of opinion polls is illegal.

An election silence operates in some countries to allow a period for voters to reflect on events before casting their votes.[5] During this period no active campaigning by the candidates is allowed. Often polling is also banned.[5]

Usage and practice




Election silences are observed in the following countries, amongst others. Their duration, before the election, is given in parentheses:

  • Armenia (24 hours)[6]
  • Argentina (48 hours)
  • Australia (ban on TV and radio advertising from midnight on the Wednesday before polling day to the close of polls on polling day—always a Saturday)[7]
  • Azerbaijan (24 hours before voting)
  • Bahrain (24 hours before voting)[8]
  • Barbados (polling day and previous)[9]
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina (24 hours)
  • Brazil (ban on TV and radio advertising from 20:40 on the Thursday before polling day to the close of polls on polling day–always a Sunday; the same applies for runoffs)[10]
  • Bulgaria (24 hours in advance of polling day and on polling day)[11]
  • Cambodia (48 hours, on the eve "White Day" and polling day, alcohol selling ban also applied)
  • Canada (advertising banned before polls close on polling day)[12]
  • Croatia (from 00:00 on the preceding day until the polling stations close)[13]
  • Cyprus (48 hours)[14]
  • Czech Republic (3 days)[15]
  • Egypt (48 hours)
  • Fiji (48 hours)[16]
  • France (on the Saturday before the Sunday election; polling silence included)
  • Greece (48 hours)
  • Hungary (from 00:00 on the preceding day)[17]
  • India (48 to 24 hours in advance of polling day and on polling day)
  • Indonesia (3 days before voting day)[18]
  • Ireland (from 14:00 on the preceding day)[19]
  • Israel (from 19:00 on the preceding day)[20] Polls are banned for 5 days before the election. TV and radio ads are banned during campaign beside a concentrated bloc scheduled by the election committee around 2 weeks before the election.
  • Italy (from 00:00 on the preceding day), polling banned from 15 days before elections, it is prohibited to say the names of candidates on television in the month before elections (except for TV news programs and regulated electoral advertising)
  • Japan (election day)
  • Kazakhstan (from 00:00 on the preceding day; releasing opinion polls are prohibited starting from 5 days before the election day)[21]
  • Lebanon (starting from zero hours on the day before the parliamentary elections, and until the closing of the polls)[22]
  • Malaysia (election day)
  • Malta (from 00:00 on the preceding day until the polls close on election day; since elections always fall on a Saturday, this means that the silence period starts on Friday at midnight)
  • Montenegro (48 hours)[23]
  • Mozambique (48 hours for campaigning; polling during the entire campaign period)[24]
  • Nepal (48 hours)
  • New Zealand (between 00:00 and 19:00 on election day).[25]
  • North Macedonia (from 00:00 on the preceding day)
  • Pakistan (24 hours) [26]
  • Paraguay (48 hours) [27]
  • Peru (24 hours) [28]
  • Philippines (on Maundy Thursday up to Good Friday, and from 00:00 on the preceding day up to election day. At this time, political campaigns are prohibited.)[29]
  • Poland (from 00:00 on the preceding day, and on the election day as long as the polling stations are open)[30] since 1991
  • Portugal (24 hours before, and during the election day)
  • Russia (24 hours)[31]
  • Singapore (24 hours) called "cooling-off day", first implemented in 2011[32]
  • Serbia (from 00:00 two days before election day)[33]
  • Slovakia (48 hours, both campaigning and polling)[34][35]
  • Slovenia (from 00:00 on the preceding day, and in the election day until the polling stations close)
  • South Korea (Election day; releasing opinion polls are prohibited starting from 6 days before the election day)
  • Spain (24 hours before election day) called "reflection day". Polling is banned five days before election day, although there are some legal tricks, like publishing abroad[36]
  • Sri Lanka (48 hours before election day)
  • Taiwan (Election day; releasing opinion polls are prohibited starting from 10 days before the election day)
  • Thailand (from 18:00 on the preceding day until the polling stations close, alcohol selling ban also applied)[37]
  • Tunisia (from 00:00 on the preceding day, and in the election day until the polling stations close)
  • Turkey (from 18:00 the day before until polling stations close, alcohol selling ban also applied from 22:00 the night before until polling stations close)
  • Ukraine (from 00:00 on the preceding day, prohibition of agitation on polling stations, external commercials and banners should be removed)[38]
  • United Kingdom; while polling stations are open, broadcast media cannot report on any campaign activity, and it is forbidden to publish an exit poll or anything resembling one until voting closes. However, candidates and parties can still campaign (and often do so intensively), and print and digital media have no additional reporting restrictions.[39]
  • Uruguay (from 00:00 two days before election day)



The Constitutional Court of Bulgaria ruled in 2009 that both electoral silence and ban on opinion polls before the election day represented a violation of freedom of speech.[citation needed]



It is not permitted to "transmit election advertising to the public in an electoral district on polling day before the close of all of the polling stations in the electoral district".[12]

Prior to the 2015 Canadian federal election,[40] the distribution of election results in regions of the country where polls have not yet closed was banned, so results from ridings in the Eastern and Atlantic provinces would not influence results in the west.[41] This was upheld as lawful in a 2007 decision of the Supreme Court, R v Bryan.[41][42] In January 2012, the Government announced it would repeal the prohibition "[as it] does not make sense with the widespread use of social media and other modern communications technology", upon the urging of the then Chief Electoral Officer, Marc Mayrand.[43][44][45] It was repealed by the Fair Elections Act on June 19, 2014.[46]

Although media organisations are not permitted to be present for the count of results or to enter polling rooms, they may shoot video or photos from outside of a polling room as long as the secrecy of the ballot is maintained and access to the room is not impeded.[47]

Between 1993 and 1998, the distribution of election surveys 74 hours before election day was banned. This was struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada as violating section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Thomson Newspapers Co v Canada (AG).[43][48]



The Constitutional Court of Slovenia ruled in 2011 that a ban on opinion polls was unconstitutional.[49]

Until 2016, any mention of the candidate on the day of election was prohibited. Those who published positive or critical statements about parties or candidates on social media, online forums, or stated them for example in restaurants, were prosecuted and fined.[50] For over two decades, media and voters refrained from talking about politics on the day before the elections and on election day. In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that "not every opinion is propaganda", published a new definition of the term 'propaganda' and reverted a lower court judgement, which convicted a person who published "Great interview! Worth reading!" on Facebook.[51][52][53]



The Constitutional Court of Hungary ruled in 2007 that a ban on opinion polls was unconstitutional, but upheld electoral silence.[54]

United States


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Burson v. Freeman (1992) that campaigning can only be limited on election day in a small area around the polling station. Any broader ban on speech would be unconstitutional.[55]


  1. ^ "French election: Sarkozy and Hollande keep silence". BBC News Europe. 5 May 2012.
  2. ^ Penman, Maggie (May 6, 2017). "French Candidate Emmanuel Macron Says Campaign Has Been Hacked, Just Before Election". NPR. Retrieved October 28, 2022.
  3. ^ "Fiji election: Blackout to end after extension". RNZ. 16 November 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2023.
  4. ^ Rigby, Brittney (14 May 2019). "Liberal Democrats senator calls for abolition of election advertising black out". Mumbrella. Retrieved 18 March 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d "Campaign silence —". aceproject.org. Retrieved 18 March 2023.
  6. ^ Electoral Code of Armenia
  7. ^ "About this Collection | Legal Reports (Publications of the Law Library of Congress) | Digital Collections | Library of Congress". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 18 March 2023.
  8. ^ "Election campaigns". vote.bh. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  9. ^ Barbados Law on Election Broadcasting
  10. ^ "Eleições 2020: propaganda eleitoral no rádio e na TV começa nesta sexta-feira; veja regras". G1 (in Portuguese). 8 October 2020. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  11. ^ Bulgaria Election Code
  12. ^ a b "Canada Elections Act". Justice Laws. Department of Justice. November 28, 2022. p. 25. Retrieved December 21, 2022. Original version published May 31, 2000. Last modified June 29, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  13. ^ "Hrvatski sabor". Archived from the original on 2017-09-30. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  14. ^ "Cyprus enters dome of silence ahead of election". Kathimerini. 28 May 2021. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  15. ^ "Media and Elections: Czech Republic". ACE Electoral Knowledge Network. 2 March 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  16. ^ "The Electoral Commission Fiji – The Electoral Commission Fiji". Retrieved 18 March 2023.
  17. ^ "Alkotmánybíróság - Kezdőlap" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-06-20. Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  18. ^ Law of the Republic of Indonesia
  19. ^ "Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) Moratorium on General Election Coverage". 24 February 2016.
  20. ^ "חוק הבחירות לכנסת" (in Hebrew).
  21. ^ "On Elections in the Republic of Kazakhstan - "Adilet" LIS". adilet.zan.kz. Retrieved 2023-12-09.
  22. ^ "What is electoral silence? And to what extent is it committed?". SBI.
  23. ^ "B92 - Election silence begins in Montenegro". Archived from the original on 2010-05-23. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  24. ^ Mozambique Electoral Law: Electoral Law 7/2007, articles 18, 24, 34
  25. ^ "Part 4: Election campaigning | Elections New Zealand". Archived from the original on 2012-10-23. Retrieved 2012-11-05.
  26. ^ "ECP - Election Commission of Pakistan". www.ecp.gov.pk. Retrieved 18 March 2023.
  27. ^ "Desde medianoche rige la veda electoral - Paraguay.com".
  28. ^ "Codigo Electoral del Peru" (PDF).
  29. ^ "Comelec releases calendar of activities for 2022 elections". RAPPLER. 2021-02-13. Retrieved 2022-04-11.
  30. ^ "Kodeks Wyborczy (internetowy system aktów prawnych)". Retrieved 18 March 2023.
  31. ^ "Election silence starts in Russia before single voting day on September 13". TASS. Retrieved 2023-05-28.
  32. ^ "Dos and Don'ts on Cooling-off and Polling days". www.straitstimes.com. Archived from the original on 2011-05-06.
  33. ^ "Izborna tišina počinje od četvrtka u ponoć" [Election Silence Starts Thursday at Midnight] (in Serbian). Telegraf. 1 May 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  34. ^ "§14 and §17, ZÁKON z 29. mája 2014 o volebnej kampani a o zmene a doplnení zákona č. 85/2005 Z. z. o politických stranách a politických hnutiach v znení neskorších predpisov". Domov. 14 January 2023.
  35. ^ a.s, Petit Press. "Volebné moratórium pred komunálnymi a VÚC voľbami 2022". domov.sme.sk (in Slovak). Retrieved 2023-01-14.
  36. ^ "LEY ORGÁNICA 5/1985, DE 19 DE JUNIO, DEL RÉGIMEN ELECTORAL GENERAL" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-02. Retrieved 2011-05-21.
  37. ^ "เลือกตั้ง 2562 ข้อห้าม ในช่วงก่อนเลือกตั้งและวันเลือกตั้ง" (in Thai). 11 March 2019.
  38. ^ "Electoral silence in Ukraine on Saturday before parliamentary election on Sunday". Kyiv Post. 27 October 2012.
  39. ^ "What is Ofcom's role during a general election?". Ofcom. 20 November 2019. Archived from the original on 3 December 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  40. ^ Cowan, Micki (7 October 2015). "Election night results blackout a thing of the past". CBC News. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  41. ^ a b "Supreme Court upholds blackout on early election night results". CBC News. 2007-06-26. Retrieved 2014-11-04.
  42. ^ "R v Bryan, 2007 SCC 12" (PDF) (in English and French). Supreme Court of Canada. March 15, 2007. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 17, 2022. Retrieved December 21, 2022.
  43. ^ a b "Advancing Fairness, Transparency and Integrity, 1982–2020". A History of the Vote in Canada (PDF) (3rd ed.). Gatineau, Quebec: Elections Canada. 2021. ISBN 978-0-660-37056-9.
  44. ^ Canada, Employment and Social Development (2012-01-13). "Harper Government Committed to Repealing Dated Ban on Early Communication of Election Results". www.canada.ca. Retrieved 2022-12-21.
  45. ^ Peesker, Saira (2012-01-13). "Feds lifting ban on publishing early election results". CTVNews. Retrieved 2022-12-21.
  46. ^ "Fair Elections Act • Loi sur l'intégrité des élections" [Law on the Integrity of Elections]. Justice Laws. Parliament of Canada. June 19, 2014. Archived from the original on December 21, 2022. Retrieved December 21, 2022 – via Department of Justice.
  47. ^ "Media at polling places". www.elections.ca. Elections Canada. 2022-12-20. Retrieved 2022-12-21.
  48. ^ "Thomson Newspapers Co. v. Canada (Attorney General) 1 SCR 877 (1998)" (PDF) (in English and French). Canada: Supreme Court of Canada. May 29, 1998. Archived from the original on July 16, 2016. Retrieved December 21, 2022.
  49. ^ Decision U-I-67/09 on 24 March 2011
  50. ^ "Socialistični volilni molk". Dnevnik (in Slovenian). Retrieved 2022-12-21.
  51. ^ "Supreme Court on election blackouts: Every comment is not propaganda". rtvslo.si. Retrieved 18 March 2023.
  52. ^ "Vrhovno sodišče o volilnem molku: Vsaka izjava še ni propaganda".
  53. ^ "Pravnik: Volilnega molka v Sloveniji ni več #IzArhiva".
  54. ^ Decision 6/2007 (II. 27.) AB on 26. February 2007
  55. ^ Burson v. Freeman, 504 U.S. 191 (1992)