Snap election
A snap election is an election called earlier than expected. Generally it refers to an election in a parliamentary system
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

 called when not required (either by law or convention), usually to capitalize on a unique electoral opportunity or to decide a pressing issue. It differs from a recall election
Recall election
A recall election is a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before his or her term has ended...

 in that it is initiated by politicians (usually the head of government or ruling party) rather than voters. Because the power to call snap elections usually lies with the incumbent
The incumbent, in politics, is the existing holder of a political office. This term is usually used in reference to elections, in which races can often be defined as being between an incumbent and non-incumbent. For example, in the 2004 United States presidential election, George W...

, they frequently result in increased majorities for the party already in power having been called at an advantageous time; however, there have been cases of snap elections backfiring and resulting in an opposition party's winning or gaining power. Generally speaking, the Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 under such systems does not have the legal power to call an election, but rather must request the election be called by the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

. In most countries, the head of state always grants such a request by convention, but in some systems (for instance, the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

 in Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 1920-1933) the head of state has been known to deny the Prime Minister's request.

In the Westminster parliamentary system
Westminster System
The Westminster system is a democratic parliamentary system of government modelled after the politics of the United Kingdom. This term comes from the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom....

 a snap election is an early election called when the Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 (or equivalent, as the Premier
Premier (Canada)
In Canada, a premier is the head of government of a province or territory. There are currently ten provincial premiers and three territorial premiers in Canada....

 of a Canadian province
Provinces and territories of Canada
The provinces and territories of Canada combine to make up the world's second-largest country by area. There are ten provinces and three territories...

 or that of an Australian state
States and territories of Australia
The Commonwealth of Australia is a union of six states and various territories. The Australian mainland is made up of five states and three territories, with the sixth state of Tasmania being made up of islands. In addition there are six island territories, known as external territories, and a...

) dissolves the legislature part way through a government's mandate.


In Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, the 1983 federal election
Australian federal election, 1983
Federal elections were held in Australia on 5 March 1983. All 125 seats in the House of Representatives, and all 64 seats in the Senate, were up for election, following a double dissolution...

 was a rare example of a snap election backfiring on the prime minister who called it. On the morning of 3 February, Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser
Malcolm Fraser
John Malcolm Fraser AC, CH, GCL, PC is a former Australian Liberal Party politician who was the 22nd Prime Minister of Australia. He came to power in the 1975 election following the dismissal of the Whitlam Labor government, in which he played a key role...

 had gone to the Governor-General to seek a double dissolution
Double dissolution
A double dissolution is a procedure permitted under the Australian Constitution to resolve deadlocks between the House of Representatives and the Senate....

. He expected he would be facing Opposition Leader Bill Hayden
Bill Hayden
William George "Bill" Hayden AC was the 21st Governor-General of Australia. Prior to this, he represented the Australian Labor Party in parliament; he was a minister in the government of Gough Whitlam, and later became Leader of the Opposition, narrowly losing the 1980 federal election to the...

 (the parliamentary leader of the Australian Labor Party
Australian Labor Party
The Australian Labor Party is an Australian political party. It has been the governing party of the Commonwealth of Australia since the 2007 federal election. Julia Gillard is the party's federal parliamentary leader and Prime Minister of Australia...

) in the campaign. But unbeknownst to Fraser, Labor had changed leadership from Hayden to Bob Hawke
Bob Hawke
Robert James Lee "Bob" Hawke AC GCL was the 23rd Prime Minister of Australia from March 1983 to December 1991 and therefore longest serving Australian Labor Party Prime Minister....

 earlier that same morning. Under Hawke, Labor went on to defeat the Fraser government.


In Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, the most notable case is the Canadian federal election, 1958
Canadian federal election, 1958
The Canadian federal election of 1958 was the 24th general election in Canada's history. It was held to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 24th Parliament of Canada on March 31, 1958, just nine months after the 23rd election...

 where Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Canada
The Prime Minister of Canada is the primary minister of the Crown, chairman of the Cabinet, and thus head of government for Canada, charged with advising the Canadian monarch or viceroy on the exercise of the executive powers vested in them by the constitution...

 John Diefenbaker
John Diefenbaker
John George Diefenbaker, PC, CH, QC was the 13th Prime Minister of Canada, serving from June 21, 1957, to April 22, 1963...

 called an election just nine months after the previous one
Canadian federal election, 1957
The Canadian federal election of 1957 was held June 10, 1957, to select the 265 members of the House of Commons of Canada. In one of the great upsets in Canadian political history, the Progressive Conservative Party , led by John Diefenbaker, brought an end to 22 years of Liberal rule, as the...

 and transformed his minority government
Minority government
A minority government or a minority cabinet is a cabinet of a parliamentary system formed when a political party or coalition of parties does not have a majority of overall seats in the parliament but is sworn into government to break a Hung Parliament election result. It is also known as a...

 into the largest majority
Majority government
A majority government is when the governing party has an absolute majority of seats in the legislature or parliament in a parliamentary system. This is as opposed to a minority government, where even the largest party wins only a plurality of seats and thus must constantly bargain for support from...

 in the history of Canada
History of Canada
The history of Canada covers the period from the arrival of Paleo-Indians thousands of years ago to the present day. Canada has been inhabited for millennia by distinctive groups of Aboriginal peoples, among whom evolved trade networks, spiritual beliefs, and social hierarchies...


A snap election was also called in the province of Ontario in 1990, three years into Premier David Peterson
David Peterson
David Robert Peterson, PC, O.Ont was the 20th Premier of the Province of Ontario, Canada, from June 26, 1985 to October 1, 1990. He was the first Liberal premier of Ontario in 42 years....

's term. Peterson was polling at 54% and expected to win a large majority. However, the snap election was interpreted as a sign of arrogance, and in the biggest upset in Ontario history, the tactic backfired and the New Democratic Party
New Democratic Party
The New Democratic Party , commonly referred to as the NDP, is a federal social-democratic political party in Canada. The interim leader of the NDP is Nycole Turmel who was appointed to the position due to the illness of Jack Layton, who died on August 22, 2011. The provincial wings of the NDP in...

 led by Bob Rae
Bob Rae
Robert Keith "Bob" Rae, PC, OC, OOnt, QC, MP is a Canadian politician. He is the Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre and interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada....

 won a majority government.


After Begum Khaleda Zia's BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) five-year term ended in January 1996, the country went to the polls on February 15, 1996 where elections were boycotted by all major opposition parties including BNP'S arch-rival Sheikh Hasina's Awami League. The opposition at that time demanded a neutral caretaker government to oversee the polls, but it was rejected by the incumbent government and the election went on as scheduled. The BNP won by default, grabbing all the 300 seats in the house of parliament and assumed power. The Awami League and its allies did not accept the results and called a month-long general strike and blockades to overthrow the illegitimate BNP government. The general strike was marred by bloody violence including a grenade attack on Awami League's headquarters which killed scores of people. On the other, the Supreme Court annulled the election results which forced the BNP government to amend the constitution in a special parliamentary session by introducing the Caretaker government system as a part of the electoral reform. Eventually the BNP government was toppled, overthrown and ousted when they resigned on March 31, 1996 and handed over power to the caretaker government. The caretaker government would stay in power for 90 days before fresh elections could be held. Finally a snap election was held in June 12, 1996 where Awami-League won a simple majority by beating its bitter rival BNP and would stay in power for the next five years.


In Italy, national snap elections have been quite frequent in modern history, both under the Monarchy and in the current republican phase. After the foundation of the Italian Republic in 1946, the first snap election occurred in 1972 and the latest one in 2008. After significant changes in the election system (in 1992–93), the frequency of snap elections has been slightly reduced since new regulations granted completion of two of four parliamentary terms. Nonetheless, snap elections still play a role in the political debate as tools considered by political parties and the Executive branch to promote their agenda or to seize political momentum. No recall election
Recall election
A recall election is a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before his or her term has ended...

 is codified in electoral regulations.


In Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, a snap election is called when a Prime Minister dissolves the lower house of the Diet of Japan
Diet of Japan
The is Japan's bicameral legislature. It is composed of a lower house, called the House of Representatives, and an upper house, called the House of Councillors. Both houses of the Diet are directly elected under a parallel voting system. In addition to passing laws, the Diet is formally...

. The act is based on Article 7 of the Constitution of Japan
Constitution of Japan
The is the fundamental law of Japan. It was enacted on 3 May, 1947 as a new constitution for postwar Japan.-Outline:The constitution provides for a parliamentary system of government and guarantees certain fundamental rights...

, which can be interpreted as saying that the Prime Minister has the power to dissolve the lower house after so advising the Emperor
Emperor of Japan
The Emperor of Japan is, according to the 1947 Constitution of Japan, "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people." He is a ceremonial figurehead under a form of constitutional monarchy and is head of the Japanese Imperial Family with functions as head of state. He is also the highest...

. One such occurrence was the general election of 11 September 2005, called by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
Junichiro Koizumi
is a Japanese politician who served as Prime Minister of Japan from 2001 to 2006. He retired from politics when his term in parliament ended.Widely seen as a maverick leader of the Liberal Democratic Party , he became known as an economic reformer, focusing on Japan's government debt and the...

 after the Diet rejected his plan to privatize Japan Post
Japan Post
was a government-owned corporation in Japan, that existed from 2003–2007, offering postal and package delivery services, banking services, and life insurance. It had over 400,000 employees and ran 24,700 post offices throughout Japan and was the nation's largest employer. One third of all Japanese...

. Koizumi won a resounding victory, and the privatization bill was passed in the next session.

New Zealand

Although New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 elections must be held about every three years, the exact timing is determined by the Prime Minister
Prime Minister of New Zealand
The Prime Minister of New Zealand is New Zealand's head of government consequent on being the leader of the party or coalition with majority support in the Parliament of New Zealand...

, and elections are sometimes held early if the Prime Minister loses the ability to command a majority of parliament or feels the need for a fresh mandate
Mandate (politics)
In politics, a mandate is the authority granted by a constituency to act as its representative.The concept of a government having a legitimate mandate to govern via the fair winning of a democratic election is a central idea of democracy...


New Zealand has had three snap elections, in 1951, 1984 and 2002. The 1951 snap election
New Zealand general election, 1951
The 1951 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the New Zealand Parliament's 30th term. It saw the governing National Party remain in office, increasing its lead over the opposition Labour Party.-Background:...

 occurred immediately after the 1951 waterfront dispute
1951 New Zealand waterfront dispute
The 1951 New Zealand waterfront dispute was the largest and most widespread industrial dispute in New Zealand history. During the time, up to twenty thousand workers went on strike in support of waterfront workers protesting financial hardships and working conditions. Thousands more refused to...

, in which the National Party
New Zealand National Party
The New Zealand National Party is the largest party in the New Zealand House of Representatives and in November 2008 formed a minority government with support from three minor parties.-Policies:...

 government sided with shipping companies against a militant union, while the Labour
New Zealand Labour Party
The New Zealand Labour Party is a New Zealand political party. It describes itself as centre-left and socially progressive and has been one of the two primary parties of New Zealand politics since 1935....

 opposition equivocated and thus annoyed both sides. The government was returned with an increased majority. The 1984 snap election
New Zealand general election, 1984
The 1984 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the 41st New Zealand Parliament. It marked the beginning of the Fourth Labour Government, with David Lange's Labour Party defeating long-serving Prime Minister Robert Muldoon of the National Party. It was also the...

 occurring during a term in which the National Party government had a majority of only one seat. An election was called by Prime Minister Robert Muldoon
Robert Muldoon
Sir Robert David "Rob" Muldoon, GCMG, CH served as the 31st Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1975 to 1984, as leader of the governing National Party. Muldoon had been a prominent member of the National party and MP for the Tamaki electorate for some years prior to becoming leader of the party...

 after he lost patience with his less obedient MPs. Announcing the election to national television while visibly drunk, Muldoon's government subsequently lost and the Labour Party took power. Labour Party Prime Minister Helen Clark
Helen Clark
Helen Elizabeth Clark, ONZ is a New Zealand political figure who was the 37th Prime Minister of New Zealand for three consecutive terms from 1999 to 2008...

 called the 2002 election
New Zealand general election, 2002
The 2002 New Zealand general election was held on 27 July 2002 to determine the composition of the 47th New Zealand Parliament. It saw the reelection of Helen Clark's Labour Party government, as well as the worst-ever performance by the opposition National Party.Arguably the most controversial...

 after problems with coalition partners, but denied it was a snap election. Although the election was held within the expected period, its date was announced with much less advance warning than was normal. The National Party was caught unprepared and suffered its worst ever result (20.9% of the party (popular) vote), and the government was returned with an increased majority.


In the Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, the term "snap election" usually refers to the 1986 presidential election
Philippine presidential election, 1986
The Presidential and Vice-Presidential snap elections were held on February 7, 1986 in the Philippines.-Background:President Ferdinand E...

, where President
President of the Philippines
The President of the Philippines is the head of state and head of government of the Philippines. The president leads the executive branch of the Philippine government and is the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines...

 Ferdinand Marcos
Ferdinand Marcos
Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos, Sr. was a Filipino leader and an authoritarian President of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. He was a lawyer, member of the Philippine House of Representatives and a member of the Philippine Senate...

 called elections earlier than scheduled, in response to growing social unrest. Marcos was declared official winner of the election but was eventually ousted
1986 EDSA Revolution
The People Power Revolution was a series of popular demonstrations in the Philippines that occurred in 1983-86. The methods used amounted to a sustained campaign of civil resistance against regime violence and electoral fraud...

 when it was alleged that he cheated in the elections.

The reasons for the calling of the snap election are because of political and economic crisis, political instability in the country and deteriorating peace and order situation.

In the current constitution
Constitution of the Philippines
The Constitution of the Philippines is the supreme law of the Philippines.The Constitution currently in effect was enacted in 1987, during the administration of President Corazon Aquino, and is popularly known as the "1987 Constitution"...

, a snap election will be held for the positions of president and vice president
Vice President of the Philippines
-Description:The Vice-President is the first in the Philippine line of succession, assuming the Presidency upon the death, resignation, or removal by impeachment and subsequent conviction of the incumbent. The position was abolished by Martial Law in 1972, and was not included in the original text...

 on the condition that both positions are vacant, and outside the 90-day range of the next scheduled presidential election.


The Instrument of Government (Regeringsformen) in the Constitution of Sweden
Constitution of Sweden
The Swedish Constitution consists of four fundamental laws :* The 1810 Act of Succession * The 1949 Freedom of the Press Act * The 1974 Instrument of Government * The 1991 Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression...

 allows an "extra election". The wording is used to make clear it does not change the period to the next ordinary election.


In 2005, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his Thai Rak Thai Party was re-elected for a second consecutive term in office when they won a landslide general election victory by grabbing a whopping 375 out of 500 seats in parliament.This result gave his party the power to amend the constitution since they have won a two-thirds majority. However one year later, in 2006, Thaksin was found to have been indulging in corrupt business practices in his own telecommunication firm Shincorp. This led to a violent street protests in Bangkok arranged by his rivals the Democrat party where they demanded his resignation. On the other other hand Thaksin took a gamble and called a snap election scheduled for April 2, 2006 where all the main opposition parties boycotted the polls and over 50% of voters abstained to cast their ballots. Thaksin won by default and captured all the 500 seats in the house of parliament. Months later, the supreme court annulled the election results and ordered a fresh election to be held within 100 days from the date of the court's ruling. However, that wasn't to be as Thaksin was ousted in a bloodless military coup forcing him into exlie in the Philippines and Dubai. The military would stay in power until 2007 when they stepped down and held a general election in December that year to restore democracy.


In Ukraine
Politics of Ukraine
Politics of Ukraine take place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the Cabinet. Legislative power is vested in the parliament...

 a snap poll must have a voter turnout
Voter turnout
Voter turnout is the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election . After increasing for many decades, there has been a trend of decreasing voter turnout in most established democracies since the 1960s...

higher than 50%.
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