Election silence

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Election silence,[1] pre-election silence, electoral silence, or campaign silence[2] is a ban on political campaigning before, and in some countries during, a presidential or general election. Under this rule, in some jurisdictions, such as Slovenia, 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".[2]


An election silence operates in some countries to allow a period for voters to reflect on events before casting their votes.[2][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[citation needed] parties.[2]

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.[3] 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.[4] The Constitutional Court of Slovenia ruled in 2011 that a ban on opinion polls was unconstitutional.[5] 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and Atlantic provinces would not influence results in the west.[6] This ban, although upheld by the Supreme Court, was repealed in 2012.

The most common phrase used in English is "blackout period".[citation needed]

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.[3] 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.[4][5] [6]


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

  • Armenia (24 hours)[7]
  • 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)[8]
  • Azerbaijan (24 hours before voting)
  • Barbados (polling day and previous)[9]
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina (24 hours)
  • Bulgaria (24 hours in advance of polling day and on polling day)[10]
  • Canada (No campaigning in polling places on election day)[citation needed] Until 2015, it was also illegal to disseminate election returns into ridings where polls were not yet closed.[11]
  • Croatia (from 00:00 on the preceding day until the polling stations close)[12]
  • Czech Republic (3 days)[citation needed]
  • Egypt (48 hours)
  • France (on the Saturday before the Sunday election; polling silence included)
  • Fiji (48 hours) [13]
  • Hungary (from 0:00 on the preceding day)[14]
  • India (48 to 24 hrs. in advance of polling day and on polling day)
  • Indonesia (3 days before voting day)[15]
  • Ireland (from 14:00 on the preceding day)[16]
  • Italy (from 0:00 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)
  • Republic of Macedonia (from 0:00 on the preceding day)
  • Malaysia (election day)
  • Malta (from 0:00 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)[17]
  • Mozambique (48 hours for campaigning; polling during the entire campaign period)[18]
  • Nepal (48 hours)
  • New Zealand (between 0:00 and 19:00 on election day).[19]
  • Pakistan (24 hours) [20]
  • Paraguay (48 hours) [21]
  • Philippines (from 0:00 on the preceding day. If Election Day is preceded by Holy Week, the ban takes effect on 00:00 of Holy Thursday.)
  • Poland (from 0:00 on the preceding day)[22] since 1991
  • Russia (24 hours)[23]
  • Singapore (24 hours) called "cooling-off day", first implemented on 2011[24]
  • Serbia (from 0:00 two days before election day)[25]
  • Slovenia (from 0:00 on the preceding day)
  • Spain (24 hours before election day) called "reflection day", which is always a Saturday. Polling is banned five days before election day, although there are some legal tricks, like publishing abroad[26]
  • Sri Lanka
  • Ukraine (from 0:00 on the preceding day)[27]
  • Uruguay (from 0:00 two days before election day)
  • United Kingdom (between 0:30 and 22:00 on election day)[28]
  • Venezuela (election day)[29]

The ACE Electoral Knowledge Network shows a map of blackout periods around the world.


  1. ^ French election: Sarkozy and Hollande keep silence, BBC News Europe, 5 May 2012
  2. ^ a b c d "Campaign silence —".
  3. ^ Burson v. Freeman, 504 U.S. 191 (1992)
  4. ^ Decision 6/2007 (II. 27.) AB on 26. February 2007
  5. ^ Decision U-I-67/09 on 24 March 2011
  6. ^ "Supreme Court upholds blackout on early election night results". CBC News. 2014-11-04. Retrieved 2007-06-26.
  7. ^ Electoral Code of the Republic of Armenia
  8. ^ Regulation of Political Advertising in Australia
  9. ^ Barbados Law on Election Broadcasting
  10. ^ Bulgaria Election Code
  11. ^ "Election night results blackout a thing of the past". CBC News. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  12. ^ "Hrvatski sabor".
  13. ^ "Election Commission of Fiji".
  14. ^ "Alkotmánybíróság - Kezdőlap" (PDF).
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ http://www.bai.ie/en/broadcasting-authority-of-ireland-bai-moratorium-on-general-election-coverage/
  17. ^ B92 - Election silence begins in Montenegro
  18. ^ Mozambique Electoral Law: Electoral Law 7/2007, articles 18, 24, 34
  19. ^ http://www.elections.org.nz/rules/parties/party-secretary-handbook-2011/part-4-election-campaigning.html
  20. ^ "Election Commission of Pakistan".
  21. ^ "Desde medianoche rige la veda electoral - Paraguay.com".
  22. ^ Kodeks Wyborczy (internetowy system aktów prawnych) [2]
  23. ^ "Russia Today".
  24. ^ http://www.straitstimes.com/GeneralElection/News/Story/STIStory_664764.html
  25. ^ "Izborna tišina počinje od četvrtka u ponoć" [Election Silence Starts Thursday at Midnight] (in Serbian). Telegraf. 1 May 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  27. ^ "Electoral silence in Ukraine on Saturday before parliamentary election on Sunday".
  28. ^ "Here's why the media is banned from reporting on general election campaigning while the polls are open". Radio Times. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  29. ^ ""Day of Silence" in Venezuela".