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A fixed-term election is an election that occurs on a set date, and cannot be changed by incumbent politicians except through exceptional mechanisms if at all.

Fixed-term elections are common for most mayors and for directly elected governors and presidents, but less common for prime ministers and parliaments in a parliamentary system of government.



  • Congressional elections in the United States occur every two years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November; presidential elections take place at alternating congressional elections. These dates cannot be changed. The United States is unusual in that Parliament (Congress) cannot be dissolved during this four-year term, a trait it shares with Norway but few other countries.
  • Elections to the European Parliament occur every five years in June. The exact date depends on the conventions of each country.
  • In Sweden elections take place every four years. Extra elections are possible but do not budge this schedule.
  • In Norway, elections take place every two years, alternating between parliamentary and local elections.
  • In Canada, the federal government and several provinces have fixed-term elections although the federal law, and that of some provinces, still allows elections to be held before the end of a term if the government loses the confidence of the house or the governor general is advised to dissolve parliament.
  • The Australian states and territory of New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) have semi-fixed terms in that dissolution at any time in mid-term is allowed only to resolve a serious deadlock.
  • The Australian Senate has a semi-fixed term that can be cut short only by a double dissolution under Section 57 of the Australian constitution, used if there is a prolonged deadlock over a Bill supported by the Australian House of Representatives. After a double dissolution election, to restore rotation, newly elected Senators' terms are backdated to the previous 1 July so that they serve less than three or six years. The Australian House of Representatives has a maximum of only three years but no minimum, so elections for the two houses sometimes get out of sync.
  • In the United Kingdom, elections for the House of Commons are set for the first Thursday in May every five years. Elections to the devolved parliaments are held on the first Thursday in May every four years. Like Canada, Germany, and Australia, provision is made for early dissolving parliament through exceptional means.
  • In Hong Kong, according to the Hong Kong Basic Law, the Chief Executive is elected every five years and the Legislative Council is elected every four years. Under some circumstances the Chief Executive may dissolve the Legislative Council, and under some other circumstances the Chief Executive is obliged to resign. In 2005 it was resolved that if the office of the Chief Executive is left vacant, the successor serves only the remainder of the term of his or her predecessor.

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