Election silence – the genesis, law regulation and ratio existendi Cover Image

Instytucja ciszy wyborczej. Geneza, regulacja prawna, ratio existendi
Election silence – the genesis, law regulation and ratio existendi

Author(s): Marcin Michał Wiszowaty
Subject(s): Law, Constitution, Jurisprudence
Published by: Łódzkie Towarzystwo Naukowe

Summary/Abstract: The election silence (pre-electoral silence, campaign silence) is a period of time, when it is prohibited to conduct electioneering. Most of the regulations concerning the election establishes “electoral day silence” (only during the voting day). In several countries of the world silence begins earlier, usually 24 hours before the polls are opened. This is to encourage reflection on the information obtained by voters during the election campaign and to help them in making reasonable choice. There are penalties for breaking the law on election silence, usually a fine. This paper presents the regulation of election silence in Poland on a comparative background, as well as arguments raised by the proponents and opponents of this institution. The article aims to answer the question about the legitimacy of the existence and maintenance of election silence. Election silence plays an important role as element of the fundamental principles of free and fair elections. It helps voter to make a decision free from campaign emotions and manipulation. Implementation of election silence must be carried out in close conjunction with the principle of equality. It requires the elimination of undesirable practice like using the privileged position by candidates acting as authority officials, agitation hidden in the form of “higher turnout campaign” or dissemination of false information about competitors in the electoral competition in the form of “leaks”. The “fair play rule” is crucial element of the equal suffrage principle. Author proposes several changes to the Polish regulations. The silence period should be extended up to 3 days. The scope and severity of sanctions for conduct violating election silence, also on the internet, should be increased. Extending the duration of the silence is to enable the completion of the ongoing legal proceedings in the so-called “special election judicial procedure”. It can be hardly resolved in 24 hours. Legal obligation to remove election posters from public space before the advent of electoral silence (eg. Armenia, Ukraine) is worth introducing in Poland. The author believes that the election silence plays an important and useful role in democratic elections, especially in countries where the level of political culture and level of development of democracy is not fully satisfactory.

  • Issue Year: 2012
  • Issue No: 14
  • Page Range: 7-34
  • Page Count: 28
  • Language: Polish