How often, and for what positions, are there elections in various countries?

Currently I can only vote absentee in Norwegian national elections, but when I lived in Norway I could vote twice in every four year period.

Once for a party list for parliament (with the ability to modify the list, which has a very small effect and requires a massive movements to affect the outcome.)

Once for one party list for municipal government and one for county government (also with list modification allowed.)

These two elections are two years apart and the only public elections other than the very rare referendum. The only one in my lifetime was the 1994 EU referendum.

I have some idea about elections here in the US, but the details and variation is a bit difficult to research and be sure I’ve covered them all, and I’m also curious about other countries.

So for countries you know the details for, how often are there public elections and what positions do they cover?

Australia - Generally follows the Westminster system in the structure of our parliaments.

Federal level - 3 year maximum term, but the government can choose to go earlier. At the moment the cycle is close to the 3 years, but for a while it was very frequent elections, purely for political expediency.

At Federal level you vote for your local representative, and a senate ticket (party list or individuals). Senators have fixed 6 year terms with a 3 year overlap, so incoming senators may not take their seats until the present term ends, sometimes many months away.

Also at Federal level there are very rare constitutional change referenda requiring a majority of voters in a majority of states to pass.

State level - generally these are four year terms, some states have fixed terms, and are also for a local representative to state parliament and a party list or independents to the upper house. Queensland has no upper house, and Tasmania has a proportional representation system that requires two heads to understand. We don’t do referenda at state level.

Local level - either a single ticket for members of the local council who choose the mayor once the election is over or, in some cases, a separately elected mayor as well. We don’t vote for judges and police chiefs and dog catcher and all that palaver.

Voting is compulsory (strictly speaking attendance and getting your name marked off is compulsory), with lots of pre-polling now taking place. Election day takes place on the Saturday - which is considered an essential aspect of allowing everyone to vote. Election day is quite celebratory and a big community day, where you can buy a democracy sausageat the local school polling place.

Overseeing all this we have Federal and State electoral commissions which are independent public servants appointed to run the elections, and after every census to ensure that electoral boundaries are reviewed and adjustments made in a non-partisan way. One of the few strong consensus positions in Australian society is that we all think the American system is shit and a big joke.


  • general election to the House of Commons at least every five years (the conditions under which they may happen sooner have changed, but for various reasons we have had three in the last five years): election by “first past the post” in 650 constituencies)
  • election to the devolved assemblies/parliament for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland every four or five years: in Scotland and Wales, election by “mixed member” system (most elected by first-past-the-post, and a minority proportionally by party), in Northern Ireland by the Single Transferable Vote preferential system
  • local elections, usually every four years, on different cycles in different parts of the country, usually by “first past the post” for two or three local council members per ward, but with variations (the Greater London Assembly has a "mixed member"system, and at one time some local authorities elected one out of two or three members per ward each year); some councils have opted for directly elected executive mayors, which also applies to larger metropolitan areas spanning different local authorities, lilke London, Manchester and Birmingham - usually elected by the Supplementary Vote preferential system; there are now also directly-elected police commissioners, replacing the former indirectly nominated police authorities.

And yes, we too have a non-partisan Electoral Commission and regular boundary reviews, based around the notion of “natural communities”, where things like shopping and commuting patterns are taken into account as well as trying to equalise the numbers of voters in each electoral area and keeping them contiguous with local authority boundaries as much as possible. We haven’t gone for compulsory voting, and although there have been experiments with electonic voting, we stick to pencil and paper.

In a suburb of Montreal we have municipal elections every four years in which we vote for mayor and one (out of 6 total) town Councillor.

We vote for one member of the (Quebec) National Assembly whenever they call an election, generally every four years.

We vote for one member of parliament again whenever they call an election, generally every four years.

There have been two referendums on the question of Quebec separating. There has been no national referendum ever as far as I know.

Once when I was living in Illinois there was an election for the state house at a time that the state had failed to redistrict and we were presented with a ballot containing 118 Democratic candidates and 118 Republican candidates for the 177 seats in the state legislature. You could vote one by one or vote a straight ticket. Obviouly, nearly everybody (incuding me) voted the straight ticket and 118 Democrats along with 59 more-or-less randomly chosen Republicans were elected. Of course the rest of the ballot included the usual plethora of local offices like coroner and dog-catcher that Americans seem to favor.

Kansas, USA.

We have elections every year, usually twice (August primary for the parties to select their candidates for general election, November general election). Each party determines how it selects its presidential candidate and organizes it own presidential primaries or caucuses; those are not part of election office’s responsibility.

At the national level, the president is elected every four years, the senator every six, and the representative every two, in even-numbered years. We have one representative and two senators with staggered terms, so we had senate races in 2016 and 2020, but not 2018.

At the state level, the governor and state senators serve four-year terms, and the state representatives two-year terms, with elections in even-numbered years. We have one senator and one representative. We elect other state-wide officers to four-year terms: Secretary of State (oversees elections and business registration filings, lobbyist registrations, publishes state statutes and regulations); Insurance Commissioner; Attorney General; State Treasurer; members of the State Board of Education. We also have yes/no votes on whether to retain appointed justices of the State Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, and the local district court judges and magistrates every four or six years (depending on court and staggered

County: County commission members, sheriff, district attorney (i.e., prosecutor), county clerk, register of deeds, county treasurer, all elected to four-year terms in even-numbered years.

Local school board: elected to four year terms in odd-numbered years. Composition of boards varies by district: some have single-member districts, some elect members at large, some a combination.

City: Mayor and city council elected to four-year terms in odd-numbered years.

In rural areas of the county, they elect township trustees and treasurers to four-year terms in even-numbered years. The township takes care of rural roads and similar maintenance issues.

There are frequently additional special issues on the ballot. For example, in 2018 the city had a sales tax question (shall the city raise the sales tax to pay for additional road repairs?), while in 2019 it was a state constitutional amendment (shall the state end the practice of adjusting census population figures to account for military personnel and college students when redistricting for the state legislature?).

Americans basically elect everyone including the dog catcher. :slight_smile:

I once voted in a special election in another state that shall remain nameless (<cough>Missouri<cough>) to consider such vital issues as whether the city should be allowed to raise the fee to purchase plots in the city cemetery.

Everywhere in the US, there are at least elections every two years, for members of the House of Representatives at least, and two thirds of the time for Senators, and half the time for President. Sometimes, depending on state law, there will be a special election to replace a dead or resigning Senator, which may or may not be at the same time as one of those other elections. All other federal positions are either appointed, or hired by someone who’s appointed.

There are usually part primaries a few months before those elections, but the details differ from state to state. Typically, the state will have official involvement in the primaries for “major parties”, a definition which always encompasses the Democrats and Republicans (though they’re not referred to by name in the law), and occasionally a third party that meets whatever criterion the state’s laws set.

Every state also has, at minimum, elections for Governor and for the state legislature. Other state officials (attorney general, judges, etc.) might be elected directly, or might be appointed by the governor, varying state to state. I think everywhere is also part of some more local level of government (a county, if nothing else, and possibly a city), which will also have elections. These state and local elections may or may not be on the same dates as the federal elections.

There’s actually one area in the US that does not have local government below that of the state: the Unorganized Borough of Alaska, which covers roughly half the state. Some of that Borough has city or tribal governments, but most does not. Services there are provided directly by the state.


  • national parliament (150 seats, proportional representation)

-provincial parliamentment, which in turn elects our senate.

  • municipal

  • water boards, which is not really political

Verstuurd vanaf mijn moto g(6) met Tapatalk

“He couldn’t be elected dogcatcher” is an ancient joke that dates back to the 1800s. It always was a joke. No evidence exists that any municipality anywhere in the U.S. ever had an elected position of dogcatcher. However, the joke was based on the truth that Americans had an enormous variety of elected positions that in other countries normally would be official state appointees.

General election (every 5 years at most). Elect members of the Dáil, the equivalent of the House of Commons.
Seanad election (follows shortly after a general election, but not everyone gets to vote).
Presidential elections (every 7 years).
Local elections (every 5 years, but not necessarily aligned with general elections).
European Parliamentary elections (every 5 years).
By-elections to fill a Dáil vacancy.
Referenda to amend the Constitution or to approve a European Union Treaty (no fixed schedule).

Panama has a single election every five years for all national, regional, and local positions, including President, Vice President, the 71 members of the National Assembly, provincial governors, and mayors of municipalities. The President cannot be directly re-elected, but is eligible again after sitting out 2 elections, that is, 10 years.

The most recent election was in May 2019. Since the restoration of democracy in 1989, the party in power has never won the following presidential election (and no former president has ever been re-elected in a subsequent election).

With a single election every five years for every position, election season becomes quite a frenzy.

Well apparently a Vermont town tried. They elected a dogcatcher for 15 years before someone brought up that it was against Vermont law.


Every four years, we have our most important election for our national parliament, the Bundestag. The elected members of the Bundestag later elect the chancellor.

Also every four years, the election for the federal parliament for each state. Those elections are at different times for every state.

Every five years, the elections for the European parliament.

Every five years, municipal elections. The municipal parliaments and the mayors are elected.

You forgot the European parliament ;).

Other Canada-wide referendums/referenda were:

(1) Prohibition (Sept. 29, 1898). Those in favor were 51.3%. It was such a small majority that no further action was taken at the time.

(2) “Are you in favour of releasing the Government from any obligations arising out of any past commitments restricting the methods of raising men for military service?” - i.e. conscription (1942). 64.6% voted in favor. No action was taken until 1944.

(3) “Do you agree that the Constitution of Canada should be renewed on the basis of the agreement reached on August 28, 1992?” - i.e. the “Charlottetown Accord” (1992). 55% voted “No”.

There have been several other provincial referendums - the most famous being the two held in Newfoundland (actually - not a part of Canada at the time) in 1948 as to whether it should (a) restore Dominion status (which it had prior to 1931) (b) join Canada. (c) continuing the Commission of Government. No majority in the first one, so (c) was dropped, and 52% voted (b) in the second one.

A newer version of that joke, I’ve noticed, is that you can’t get elected dog catcher unless a majority of the people voting for you agree with your stance on issues such as abortion or same sex marriage.

In California besides the even-years congressional primaries and general, and 4-years presidential state primaries and general, all of which may include propositions, statewide office elections (executive and legislative) are in odd years, cities and counties may hold elections for offices and propositions however they’re constituted, and special elections pop up whenever. IIRC in Sonoma County (a bit north of San Narcisco) one year with multiple special elections in my district, I exercised the franchise so much, I damn near wore it out!

Here in Amateur county (a bit uphill from Sacratomato) I last voted for many statewide offices, a congresscritter, state legislators, various county offices, and state and county propositions. And that was a short ballot.

There’s usually an election every November here in Macomb County Michigan, although at any particular place you’re only guaranteed one every two years for Congress. Locally there seems to always be at least one ballot proposal every year, more often than not a request for a renewal of a one portion of property tax that had been originally passed only for a set period of time. I’m pretty sure every single element of property tax here was voted on by the citizens at some point in time, if only some at a time so far in the past that no one who voted on it still lives here. If there’s not one of those, there’s a new millage being proposed, or a state-wide ballot initiative. The ones that aren’t for President or Governor (even years when not electing President) are very sparsely attended. I think we elect municipal officials on one of those off years, but the last election the mayor ran unopposed and I think all but 2 candidates out of around 9 for City Council would get elected.