Right to free elections

The Human Rights Act requires the government to support your right to free expression by holding free elections at reasonable intervals.

The elections must enable you to vote in secret.


The right to free elections is absolute, which means that it must never be restricted in any way.

However, the government can put some limits on the way elections are held, and it can decide what kind of electoral system to have – such as ‘first past the post’ or proportional representation.

The right to free elections only applies to those who are eligible to vote under UK law.

What the law says

Protocol 1, Article 3: Right to free elections

The High Contracting Parties undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature.

Last Updated: 09 Jun 2009