Election boycott

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A Swedish urge to boycott the European parliament.

An election boycott is the boycotting of an election by a group of voters, each of whom abstains from voting.

Boycotting may be used as a form of political protest where voters feel that electoral fraud is likely, or that the electoral system is biased against its candidates, or that the polity organizing the election lacks legitimacy. In jurisdictions with compulsory voting, a boycott may amount to an act of civil disobedience; alternatively, supporters of the boycott may be able to cast blank votes or vote for "none of the above". Boycotting voters may belong to a particular regional or ethnic group. A particular political party or candidate may refuse to run in the election and urges its supporters to boycott the vote.

In the case of a referendum, a boycott may be used as a voting tactic by opponents of the proposition. If the referendum requires a minimum turnout to be valid, the boycott may prevent this quorum being reached.

In general elections, individuals and parties will often boycott in order to protest the ruling party's policies with the hope that when voters do not show up the elections will be deemed illegitimate by outside observers.[1] This tactic, however, can prove disastrous for the boycotting parties. Lack of participation rarely nullifies election results and the distorted voting is likely to further detach boycotting groups from the organs of power, leaving them susceptible to political irrelevance.[1]

Major instances of electoral boycotts[edit]

Election Turnout (%) Notes
Jamaican general election, 1983 2.7 6 of 60 seats contested, with 55% turnout in them.
Slovak referendum, 1997 9.5
Bangladeshi general election, February 1996 21.0
Bangladeshi general election, 2014 22.0
Venezuelan parliamentary election, 2005 25.3
Burkinabé presidential election, 1991 27.3
Ghanaian parliamentary election, 1992 28.1
Malian presidential election, 1997 29.0
Trinidad and Tobago general election, 1971 33.2
Togolese presidential election, 1993 36.2
Ivorian presidential election, 2000 37.4
Northern Ireland sovereignty referendum, 1973 58.1 Less than 1% amongst Catholics
Gambian parliamentary election, 2002 56.4 Voting only took place in 15 of the 48 seats
Algerian presidential election, 1999 60 Boycotting candidates claimed that it was only around 25%
Thai general election, 2006 65.2
Guinean presidential election, 2003 86 Opposition estimates were less than 15%
Thai general election, 2014 65.2 Boycotting again by Democrat Party same general election on 2006

Boycott campaigns[edit]

In South Africa, the three largest independent social movements boycott the vote under the banner of the No Land! No House! No Vote! Campaign.

Other social movements in other parts of the world also have similar campaigns or non-voting preferences. These include the Naxalites in India, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in Mexico and various Anarchist oriented movements. In Mexico's mid term 2009 elections there was strong support for 'Nulo' - a campaign to vote for no one.[2][3][4] In India poor people's movements in Singur, Nandigram and Lalgarh have rejected parliamentary politics (as well as the NGO and Maoist alternatives).[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]