POLYAS Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy

Legislative Term

The legislative term is the period of time for which an elected official holds office. 

Parliamentary elections in the UK (electing MPs which will later form the government) must be held every five years. Therefore the legislative term is generally five years.

However, the legislative term can also be shortened, for example if the government is subject to a vote of no-confidence. In this case, Parliament is dissolved and a new election is held.

The last year of the legislative term is dominated by the parties' campaigns to win over votes from the public.

In the US, the legislative term served by members of the House of Representatives is two years, whereas Senators remain in office for at least a term of six years.

See also: By-Laws, Election Campaign, US Congress

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