A fixed-term election is an election that occurs on a set date, and cannot be changed by incumbent politicians other than through exceptional mechanisms if at all.
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This article needs attention from an expert in Elections and Referendums. (October 2019)
Fixed-term elections are common for directly-elected executive officers, such as directly-elected mayors, governors and presidents, but less common for prime ministers and parliaments in a parliamentary system of government.
- The Australian Senate has a semi-fixed term that can be cut short only by a double dissolution under Section 57 of the Australian constitution, used if there is a prolonged deadlock over a Bill supported by the Australian House of Representatives. After a double dissolution election, to restore rotation, newly elected Senators' terms are backdated to the previous 1 July so that they serve less than three or six years. Since the Australian House of Representatives has a maximum term of only three years but no minimum term, elections for the two houses can become desynchronised, resulting in separate elections for each house. However, this has not happened since 1970. The Australian states and territories of New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) have semi-fixed terms in that dissolution at any time in mid-term is allowed only to resolve a serious deadlock.
- Elections to the European Parliament are considered the second largest democratic elections in the world and occur every five years on a weekend in June. Each country is relatively free to set its own election rules and each chooses one out of the four days of the selected weekend to hold its election.
- In Hong Kong, according to the Hong Kong Basic Law, the Chief Executive is elected every five years and the Legislative Council is elected every four years. Under some circumstances the Chief Executive may dissolve the Legislative Council, and under some other circumstances the Chief Executive is obliged to resign. In 2005 it was resolved that if the office of the Chief Executive is left vacant, the successor serves only the remainder of the term of his or her predecessor.
- Elections in Norway take place every two years, alternating between parliamentary and local elections. Norway is unusual in that the legislature cannot be dissolved early (a trait it shares with the United States but few other countries): the Storting always serves its full four-year term; the constitution does not allow snap elections, nor does it give the monarch the right to dissolve parliament even if the government wants to do so.
- Elections in Russia to the State Duma are for a five-year term. The President of Russia has the authority to dissolve the Duma and call a snap election in two cases: if the Duma refuses to approve the President's appointee for Prime Minister of Russia three times in a row, or if the Duma passes a motion of no-confidence in the Government of Russia twice in three months.
- Elections in Sweden take place every four years. Extra elections can be called by the Prime Minister. They happen automatically when and if the Speaker fails four times to present a candidate for Prime Minister that Parliament can accept. Extra elections do not replace regular ones - they do not move the four-year schedule.
This section's factual accuracy is disputed. (October 2019)
- In the United Kingdom, elections for the House of Commons are set for the first Thursday in May every five years. Elections to the devolved parliaments are held on the first Thursday in May every five years as well. Like Canada, Germany, and Australia, provision is made for early dissolving parliament through exceptional means.
- Elections in the United States: Members of Congress and the President serve fixed terms. General elections for Congress occur every two years on Election Day in November. The President is technically elected every four years by the Electoral College. However, it is customary today for electors to be chosen based on the outcome of popular votes for President, held along with Congressional elections when applicable. Congress and the President remain in office until January the following year. Most U.S. states and territories also have fixed terms for their legislatures and executives, and most hold their general elections on the federal Election Day, though several states hold off-year elections instead.
A number of countries do not provide for fixed terms for elected officials, instead stipulating the maximum length of a term, permitting elections to be held more frequently as determined by the government. Such examples include the Australian House of Representatives, the New Zealand Parliament, the Canadian Parliament or the Folketing parliament of Denmark, in each case the prime minister may advise the monarch to call an election earlier than the constitutional maximum term of the parliament. Before the Fixed-term Parliaments Act of 2011, the United Kingdom too practiced this system.
- Act of 20 September 1976, Article 10: "Elections to the European Parliament shall be held on the date and at the times fixed by each Member State; for all Member States this date shall fall within the same period starting on a Thursday morning and ending on the following Sunday."
- "Chapter 5. The Federal Assembly". The Constitution of the Russian Federation.