Is the period of “Electoral Reserve” before a vote a French exception? – Freedom

presidential election 2022Case

Many states impose a period of “election silence” for their own elections. But with different durations and fields of application.

Question asked on Twitter on April 9.


You ask us whether the equivalent of France’s electoral reserve period exists abroad. As a reminder, its principle is to ban political campaigning during the weekend when the presidential election is held, to balance the balance of power between candidates, and to give citizens time to form an opinion freely without being affected. Can go

This rule is found in Articles L49 and L49-1 of the Electoral Code, which provide that“It is prohibited to deliver or distribute ballot papers, circulars and other documents, at midnight the day before the poll”but “To transmit or transmit to the public by electronic means any message having the character of election propaganda”either “Whether to proceed by an automated system for serial telephone calls of voters to encourage a candidate to vote”,

As a result, candidates are barred from speaking up, campaigning for their teams, media commenting on elections, or broadcasting new opinion polls to polling institutions. Even citizens are concerned, and as far as possible, should refrain from any promotional activity, as explained in Czech News recently.

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For this first round of presidential elections, the electoral reserve period opens at midnight on Saturday and lasts until the announcement of the first results, this Sunday at 8 pm.

“Gentleman’s Agreement”

The principle of “election silence” imposed in the final days or hours before the election is far from being the French exception. But according to states, its scope is not always the same: in some countries, it does not prevent the spread of voting on voting intentions. In relation to these elections, a map produced by the information portal on the electoral system ACE Electoral Knowledge Network makes it possible to know, country by country, the period during which it is prohibited (or not) to make them public.

In addition, the obligation of an electoral reserve may be provided for by law, or may result from a simple agreement between the main parties. This is called “gentlemen’s agreement”. In the absence of a text, this “amicable” agreement can nevertheless be broken by one or more parties – this was the case in 2006 during the general elections in Sweden, outlines the ACE Electoral Knowledge Network in a written response – and become It is difficult to implement in subsequent elections.

Spanish “Day of Reflection”

Among its close neighbours, we can cite the case of Italy, which not only provides for a period of silence starting at midnight the day before the polls, but also prohibits any publication of polls in the last fortnight of the campaign. and imposes on the channels. Television should not pronounce the names of candidates during the entire month before the election, except when it comes to information programs or regulated election campaigns (the equivalent of our campaign clips). Spain, for its part, introduced a “reflection day”, which begins 24 hours before polling stations open. There, it is also forbidden to broadcast polls in the last five days before the election.

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In the United Kingdom, broadcast media are not allowed to report on any campaigning activity, or publish exit polls, until Election Day and polling stations are closed. However, the written and digital press have no bearing. As for candidates and parties, they can continue to campaign throughout the election. Most other European countries also have such periods.

Note that some jurisdictions have sometimes limited or clarified these rules in the name of freedom of expression. Thus, in 2007, the Hungarian Constitutional Court ruled that the ban on opinion polls was unconstitutional, upholding the principle of electoral silence. Same thing for the Constitutional Court of Slovenia, in their case in 2011. In this Central European country, it was strictly forbidden until 2016 to relay any comment on a candidate (whether by a party, a media or an ordinary voter) on election day, but constitutional judge Slovenian upheld this rule as a Clarified by canceling the sentence. Who gave his opinion on the social network Facebook. Slightly further east, in Bulgaria, the Constitutional Court in 2009 held that electoral silence and the blocking of the broadcast of pre-election elections constitute a violation of freedom of expression.

Restrictions are limited to polling stations

Elsewhere in the world, Brazil prohibits any dissemination of election campaigns on the antennas of audiovisual media from 8:40 p.m. on the Thursday before each round of presidential elections. In Canada, as in the United States, it is not possible to campaign on Election Day in one of the locations where voting takes place. The US Supreme Court held in the famous case of Burson v. Freeman stated in 1992 that the rule could only be limited to a small area around a polling station, and that any sweeping restrictions would be unconstitutional. In the case of Canada, national electoral law has long stipulated that electoral results for constituencies in the east of the country should not be disclosed while polling stations located in the west are still open, so as not to be affected. Voting in these areas. But this principle has not been followed since 2015. Canadian media are strictly prohibited from broadcasting opinion polls on Election Day, while American media are not subject to any restrictions, including when polling stations are open.

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Finally, let us mention South Africa, which for its part distinguishes “Political Events” from “Political activities other than voting”. The former is considered an integral part of the electoral campaign, and is therefore strictly prohibited on polling day, while the latter is authorized as long as it does not encroach on the polling station area.

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About the Author: Rusty Kemp

Tv ninja. Lifelong analyst. Award-winning music evangelist. Professional beer buff. Incurable zombie specialist.

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