Election silence, pre-election silence, electoral silence, or campaign silence is a ban on political campaigning before, and in some countries during, a general election. Under this rule, in some jurisdictions, such as Slovenia and Poland, 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".
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An election silence operates in some countries to allow a period for voters to reflect on events before casting their votes.[need quotation to verify] During this period no active campaigning by the candidates is allowed. Often polling is also banned. The silence is generally legally enforced, though in some countries it is just a "gentlemen's agreement" between leading parties.
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. In Bulgaria, the constitutional court ruled in 2009 that both electoral silence and ban on opinion polls before the election day represented a violation of freedom of speech. The Constitutional Court of Hungary ruled in 2007 that a ban on opinion polls was unconstitutional, but upheld electoral silence. The Constitutional Court of Slovenia ruled in 2011 that a ban on opinion polls was unconstitutional. Per Section 329 of the Canada Elections Act, Canada formerly banned the distribution of election results in regions of the country where polls have not yet closed, so results from ridings in the Eastern and Atlantic provinces would not influence results in the west. This ban, although upheld by the Supreme Court, was repealed in 2012.
In Slovenia 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. 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.
Election silences are observed in the following countries, amongst others. Their duration, before the election, is given in parentheses:
- Afghanistan (24 hours)
- Armenia (24 hours)
- 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)
- Azerbaijan (24 hours before voting)
- Barbados (polling day and previous)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina (24 hours)
- Brazil (ban on TV and radio advertising from 20:40 on the Thrusday before polling day to the close of polls on polling day–always a Sunday; the same applies for runoffs)
- Bulgaria (24 hours in advance of polling day and on polling day)
- Canada (No campaigning in polling places on election day) Until 2015, it was also illegal to disseminate election returns into ridings where polls were not yet closed.
- Croatia (from 00:00 on the preceding day until the polling stations close)
- Czech Republic (3 days)
- Egypt (48 hours)
- France (on the Saturday before the Sunday election; polling silence included)
- Fiji (48 hours)
- Hungary (from 00:00 on the preceding day)
- India (48 to 24 hours in advance of polling day and on polling day)
- Indonesia (3 days before voting day)
- Ireland (from 14:00 on the preceding day)
- Israel (from 19:00 on the preceding day) 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)
- 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)
- Mozambique (48 hours for campaigning; polling during the entire campaign period)
- Nepal (48 hours)
- New Zealand (between 00:00 and 19:00 on election day).
- North Macedonia (from 00:00 on the preceding day)
- Pakistan (24 hours)
- Paraguay (48 hours)
- Peru (24 hours)
- Philippines (from 00:00 on the preceding 3 days. At this time, political campaigns are prohibited.)
- Poland (from 00:00 on the preceding day, and on the election day) since 1991
- Portugal (24 hours before, and during the election day)
- Russia (24 hours)
- Singapore (24 hours) called "cooling-off day", first implemented in 2011
- Serbia (from 00:00 two days before election day)
- Slovakia (24hours, polling 14 days before election day.)
- 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
- 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)
- Tunisia (from 00:00 on the preceding day, and in the election day until the polling stations close)
- Ukraine (from 00:00 on the preceding day, prohibition of agitation on polling stations, external commercials and banners should be removed)
- Uruguay (from 00:00 two days before election day)
- United Kingdom (while polling is open)
- "French election: Sarkozy and Hollande keep silence". BBC News Europe. 5 May 2012.
- "Campaign silence —".
- Burson v. Freeman, 504 U.S. 191 (1992)
- Decision 6/2007 (II. 27.) AB on 26. February 2007
- Decision U-I-67/09 on 24 March 2011
- "Supreme Court upholds blackout on early election night results". CBC News. 2014-11-04. Retrieved 2007-06-26.
- French Candidate Emmanuel Macron Says Campaign Has Been Hacked, Just Before Election
- Fiji election: Blackout to end after extension
- NEWSLiberal Democrats senator calls for abolition of election advertising black out
- Socialistični volilni molk ("In Slovenian")
- "Supreme Court on election blackouts: Every comment is not propaganda".
- "Vrhovno sodišče o volilnem molku: Vsaka izjava še ni propaganda".
- "Pravnik: Volilnega molka v Sloveniji ni več #IzArhiva".
- "Silence on election law violations questioned".
- Electoral Code of the Republic of Armenia
- Regulation of Political Advertising in Australia
- Barbados Law on Election Broadcasting
- "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.
- Bulgaria Election Code
- "Election night results blackout a thing of the past". CBC News. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
- "Hrvatski sabor". Archived from the original on 2017-09-30. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
- "Election Commission of Fiji".
- "Alkotmánybíróság - Kezdőlap" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-06-20. Retrieved 2008-11-05.
- "חוק הבחירות לכנסת" (in Hebrew).
- "B92 - Election silence begins in Montenegro". Archived from the original on 2010-05-23. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
- Mozambique Electoral Law: Electoral Law 7/2007, articles 18, 24, 34
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-10-23. Retrieved 2012-11-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Election Commission of Pakistan".
- "Desde medianoche rige la veda electoral - Paraguay.com".
- "Codigo Electoral del Peru" (PDF).
- Kodeks Wyborczy (internetowy system aktów prawnych)
- "Izborna tišina počinje od četvrtka u ponoć" [Election Silence Starts Thursday at Midnight] (in Serbian). Telegraf. 1 May 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- "Domov". Domov.
- "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.
- "เลือกตั้ง 2562 ข้อห้าม ในช่วงก่อนเลือกตั้งและวันเลือกตั้ง" (in Thai).
- "Electoral silence in Ukraine on Saturday before parliamentary election on Sunday".
- "What is Ofcom's role during a general election?". Ofcom. 20 November 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2019.