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Election deposit

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In an electoral system, a deposit is the sum of money that a candidate for an elected office, such as a seat in a legislature, is required to pay to an electoral authority before they are permitted to stand for election.

In the typical case, the deposit collected is repaid to the candidate after the poll if the candidate obtains a specified proportion of the votes cast. The purpose of the deposit is to reduce the prevalence of 'fringe' candidates or parties with no realistic chance of winning a seat. If the candidate does not achieve the refund threshold, the deposit is forfeited.


In Australian federal elections, a candidate for either the Australian House of Representatives or the Australian Senate is required to pay a deposit of $2,000.[1][2] The deposit is refunded if the candidate or group gains at least 4% of first preference votes in the relevant electoral division.

The States and territories of Australia will have their own individual deposit requirements and repayment thresholds for their separate elections.


In Canada, there is no longer a deposit requirement for federal elections.[3] On 25 October 2017, the judge presiding over Szuchewycz v. Canada[4] found that the deposit requirement infringed Section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and could not be justified under Section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The successful Charter challenge of the deposit requirement was undertaken by self-represented[4] Edmontonian Kieran Szuchewycz who had failed to meet the candidacy requirements for the 2015 Canadian federal election when attempting to run against the former prime minister Stephen Harper in the Calgary electoral district of Calgary Heritage.

Before the Szuchewycz v. Canada ruling, a candidate for Member of Parliament needed to place a $1,000 deposit.[5]

Hong Kong[edit]

Each list of candidates for the Legislative Council of Hong Kong is subject to a deposit of HK$50,000 for a geographical constituency, and HK$25,000 for a "functional constituency". The deposit is forfeited should the list (or candidate) fail to secure at least 3% of the valid votes cast in the constituency.[6] For District Council elections, the deposit amount is HK$3,000.


In the Republic of India, candidates for election to the lower house of the parliament – Lok Sabha – must pay a security deposit of 25,000. For state assembly elections the amount is 10,000. For Scheduled castes and scheduled tribes candidates the amounts are ₹12,500 and 5,000 respectively. Any candidate who fails to secure more than one-sixth (16.7%) of the total valid votes cast in a first-past-the-post voting system would forfeit his or her deposit.[7][8][9][10]


In Ireland, candidates for election to Dáil Éireann who have been nominated by political parties registered to contest Dáil elections, as well as non-party candidates who are able to provide detailed information of 30 electors in the constituency who have assented to their nomination, are not required to pay a deposit. Candidates who fail to meet either of these criteria, however, must pay a deposit of €500.[11] This follows a High Court ruling; the court found that the obligatory payment of deposits by all candidates was repugnant to the Constitution of Ireland.[12]

Candidates for Local Elections who have been nominated by registered political parties, as well as non-party candidates who are able to provide detailed information of 15 electors in the constituency who have assented to their nomination, are not required to pay a deposit. Candidates who fail to meet either of these criteria, however, must pay a deposit of €100.[13]

Candidates standing in European Elections must pay a deposit of €1,800.[14]

Candidates who paid the deposit are returned if their final vote total, under the single transferable vote electoral system, exceeds one-quarter of the Droop quota for their constituency; i.e. in a four-seat constituency, the quota is 20% therefore the deposit threshold is 5%. This is also the threshold that candidates' votes must exceed in order for them to claim an election expenses allowance from the State.


Japan's electoral deposit is the most expensive by a wide margin among the countries having such a system. Currently, a candidate for a constituency seat of the lower house or the upper house must place a ¥3 million deposit. It is refunded provided that the lower house candidate gains one-tenth (10%) or more of the total valid votes cast in the constituency, or provided that the upper house candidate gains one-eighth (12.5%) or more of the total valid votes divided by the number of the seats for the constituency.

The deposit for a proportional seat of both houses is as high as ¥6 million and the refund would only depend on the number of seats that the party won. It is refunded in full amount if half or more of its candidates won seats. Local elections including gubernatorial, mayoral and council elections also have the deposit system with the amounts ranging from ¥150,000 to ¥3 million.

The deposit system in Japan, inspired by the Westminster system, was introduced as part of the General Election Law of 1925 to prevent frivolous candidates from running simply for publicity or to disrupt election campaigns. However, it is sometimes attributed that its real purpose is to limit the number of candidates from opposition parties with lower financial power and make sure that those with such a power also hold political power, particularly the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has ruled the country since 1955 except for two brief disruptions.[15] Hiroshi Kamiwaki, a professor specializing in the Constitution at Kobe Gakuin University, has argued that it is against Article 44 of the Constitution of Japan, which prohibits discrimination concerning the eligibility of lawmakers based on property and income.

South Korea[edit]

In South Korea, candidates for election to a constituency seat of the National Assembly must pay a deposit of 15 million won, which is reimbursed in full if they obtain at least 15% of the valid votes cast. Half of the amount is reimbursed if they receive over 10% but less than 15% of the votes. Candidates running for proportional seats are also required to pay the same amount, which can be reimbursed if the party represented wins at least one seat.[16]


In Malaysia, the deposit is RM 10,000 to contest a parliamentary seat and RM 5,000 to contest a state assembly seat (increased from RM 5,000 and RM 3,000, respectively, in 2004). Since 2004, it was required that each candidate provide an additional RM 5,000 deposit for cleaning up banners and posters after the election. This increase is seen by some as having led to the government winning a record number of seats without contest in 2004 (17 parliamentary seats were won without contest). The deposit is used to pay for infringements of election laws and is returned after polling day unless the candidate loses and fails to garner more than one-eighth of the votes cast.[17]

New Zealand[edit]

In New Zealand Parliament elections, registered parties may submit a party list on payment of a $1,000 deposit. This deposit is refunded if the party reaches 0.5% of the party votes. The deposit for an electorate candidate is $300 which is refunded if the candidate reaches 5%.


In Singapore, the election deposit per candidate for the Parliament is 8% of the total allowances paid to a Member of Parliament in the preceding year, rounded to the nearest $500. The amount varies by each year and election, as follows:

  • In the previous general election on 2015, and in the recent by-election in 2016, and the 2020 election the figures were S$14,500, S$13,500, and S$13,500 respectively.[18]
  • For Group Representative Constituencies, the deposit amount is multiplied by the number of MPs in that GRC.
  • For Presidential Elections, the deposit amount is tripled. For instance, in 2011, the figure was S$48,000 (which is a triple of S$16,000, the same deposit allocated for GE2011 held on the same year). In the 2017 elections (elected by uncontested walkover),[19] the figure was S$43,500 (which is a triple of S$14,500).[20] The deposit for the 2023 election was $40,500, a triple of $13,500.[21]

In all cases, unelected candidates who fail to secure at least one-eighth (12.5%) of the valid votes in their constituencies will have their deposit forfeited.


In Ukraine, during the presidential elections, candidates are required to pay a nomination deposit of ₴2,500,000 (approx. US$90,000) which is refunded only to those candidates that progress to the second round of voting.

United Kingdom[edit]

Since 1985 the deposit in elections to the House of Commons has been £500, which must be handed in, in cash, banker's draft, or other forms of legal tender, when the candidate submits nomination papers. It is refunded if the candidate gains 5% or more of the valid votes cast.[22][23]

Between 1918 and 1985, the cost was £150 — in 1918 this equates to £9,200 in 2023, when adjusted for inflation. By 1985, inflation had eroded the value to equate to £600 in 2023 pounds. The threshold for refunding the candidate's money was higher: winning one-eighth (12.5%) of valid votes cast.[24]

Deposits must also be paid by candidates for election to:

A deposit of £500 is also required for mayoral elections in those English or Welsh local authorities led by an executive mayor.[29][30]

A £5,000 deposit must be paid by candidates for election to:

A £10,000 deposit must be paid by candidates for election to the Mayoralty of London.[32]

The loss of a deposit by a candidate for a major party is regarded as an embarrassment.[33] The deposit has been criticised for making it difficult for smaller parties to engage in politics and the Electoral Commission has suggested scrapping them for general elections.[31][34] However, many smaller parties from across the political spectrum participate in elections, including single issue groups and local independent candidates as well as joke and novelty parties. MPs have also defended deposits as preventing abuse of the electoral system, and being used for free publicity by those who are not seriously contending the seat.[35]

Deposits are not required to be paid for candidates standing in council elections.[36]


  1. ^ "Candidate nominations". Australian Electoral Commission. Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  2. ^ "Candidate information". Australian Electoral Commission. Archived from the original on 19 June 2020. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  3. ^ "News Releases and Media Advisories". Elections.ca. 10 August 2021.
  4. ^ a b Szuchewycz v Canada (Attorney General), 2017 ABQB 645 (25 October 2017)
  5. ^ "Globe editorial: A judge bans federal election deposits, and it makes sense". The Globe and Mail. 31 October 2017.
  6. ^ Paggie Leung, "Deposit forfeitures nearly double", South China Morning Post, Page A4, 9 September 2008
  7. ^ "FAQs – Contesting for Elections". Election Commission of India. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  8. ^ "Electoral system in India" (PDF). National Institute of Open schooling. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  9. ^ "Forfeited deposits fill EC coffers". The Times of India. 24 April 2004. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  10. ^ "Election Commission of India". Archived from the original on 20 August 2018. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  11. ^ "Electronic Irish Statute Book (eISB)". Irishstatutebook.ie.
  12. ^ Collins, Geraldine (22 March 2002). "Law to abolish election deposit". Irish Independent. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  13. ^ "Local elections in Ireland". Citizens Information. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  14. ^ "European elections". Citizens Information. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  15. ^ Candidate deposit requirement guarantees same faces on the ballot Yen for Living (The Japan Times blog) October 26, 2012
  16. ^ "IPU PARLINE database: REPUBLIC OF KOREA (Kuk Hoe), Electoral system". Ipu.org.
  17. ^ Rahman, Rashid A. (1994). The Conduct of Elections in Malaysia, p. 133. Kuala Lumpur: Berita Publishing. ISBN 967-969-331-7.
  18. ^ "GE2020: Elections Department releases list of 9 nomination centres". Channelnewsasia.com. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  19. ^ Halimah Yacob to be sworn in as Singapore's 8th President on Thursday: PMO (Straits Times Newspaper) Retrieved September 13th, 2017.
  20. ^ Presidential Election: Polling day set for Sept 23 (Today Newspaper) Retrieved August 28, 2017
  21. ^ "Presidential Elections (Prescribed Forms) Regulations - Singapore Statutes Online". sso.agc.gov.sg. Retrieved 17 August 2023.[permanent dead link]
  22. ^ "Factsheet on standing at a UK Parliamentary general election (GB only)". Electoralcommission.org.uk. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  23. ^ "Who can stand as an MP? - UK Parliament". Archived from the original on 12 November 2020. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  24. ^ "Election Resources on the Internet: Parliamentary Elections in the U.K. - Elections to the House of Commons". Electionresources.org. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
  25. ^ "Guidance for candidates and agents: Part 2a of 6 – Standing at the constituency election" (PDF). The Electoral Commission (UK). March 2021. p. 4. Retrieved 5 August 2023.
  26. ^ "Guidance for candidates and agents: Part 2a of 6 – Standing at the constituency election" (PDF). The Electoral Commission (UK). February 2021. p. 13. Retrieved 5 August 2023.
  27. ^ "Guidance for candidates and agents – Greater London Authority election, 1 May 2008" (PDF). London, UK: The Electoral Commission. 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 December 2008. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  28. ^ "Guidance for candidates and agents, Northern Ireland Assembly elections, March 2007" (PDF). Electoralcommission.org.uk. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  29. ^ "Mayoral Election 2009". Bedford.gov.uk. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
  30. ^ "Candidate guide - mayoral elections (Part 2a/6)". Electoralcommission.org.uk.
  31. ^ a b "Greater Manchester mayor: Communist League candidate Peter Clifford pulls out of race". BBC News. 8 March 2017.
  32. ^ "Nominations | London Elects". Londonelects.org.uk. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  33. ^ UK's Tory-LibDem coalition avert by-election embarrassment, can forge ahead shrinking government, Washington Examiner, 14 January 2011
  34. ^ "Scrap general election deposits, says watchdog". BBC News. 13 January 2015.
  35. ^ "MPs oppose scrapping of election deposits". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  36. ^ "Surrey County Council - How to become a councillor". 2 April 2015. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 24 May 2022.