50-day Silence Period on Publication of Opinion Polls Before Election in Slovakia

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The Slovak Parliament recently passed a legislative rider to extend the length of the silence period, which prohibits the publication of opinion polls before an election. Slovak electoral rules had previously prohibited political campaigning and the publication of opinion polls 14 days before an election taking place. The new legislation makes the Slovak moratorium “third-longest in the world after Cameroon and Tunisia,” according to the Slovak Academy of Sciences.

The legislative change was widely criticised as unconstitutional, not least because legislative riders that are materially unrelated to the proposed law are prohibited by Article 93(3) of Standing Orders of the Parliament. The President of the Republic, therefore, decided to veto the extension on the grounds that the extended silence period disproportionately infringes the information rights of citizens and media. The President also declared that she would challenge the legislation in court and request an interim injunction against its effect if the Parliament were to overturn her veto.

The presidential veto has only a suspensive effect in law and can be overturned by a simple majority of all MPs (76 out of 150) pursuant to Article 84.3 of the Constitution. On November 26, the Parliament overturned the veto against expectations of most legal scholars and political observers. The Parliament has to publish the new electoral rule in the official gazette, which will enable the President to challenge the legislation at the Constitutional Court.

This contribution first explores comparative case-law on the extension of the silence period and then critically examines the constitutionality of the 50-day silence period in the Slovak law. This is not a difficult case in substance. The Slovak Constitution, as well as the European Convention of Human Rights, only allow the limitation of information rights if the restrictive measure pursues a legitimate aim, is necessary, and proportionate. The 50-day silence period fails to meet all of these criteria and is thus clearly unconstitutional.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date20 Dec 2019
PublisherBlog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Simon Drugda, 50-day Silence Period on Publication of Opinion Polls Before Election in Slovakia, Int’l J. Const. L. Blog, Dec. 20, 2019, at: http://www.iconnectblog.com/2019/12/50-day-silence-period-on-publication-of-opinion-polls-before-election-in-slovakia

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Law - Election, Silence period, Election blackout period, Electoral law, Publication of opinion polls, Opinion polls, Media, Freedom of expression, Information rights

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