POLYAS Election Glossary

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


The term “re-election” refers to an incumbent office holder being elected for a further legislative term. A fundamental element of representative democracy is the ability to periodically vote in and out represenatives through elections.

In many democratically elected legislatures around the world, elected officials are able to serve an unlimited number of terms in office, and can, therefore, challenge for re-election until they retire or end up losing an election.

However, some democratically elected office holders may only serve a limited number of terms. One famous example is the office of President of the United States of America. The Twenty-second Amendment of the US Constitution sets out that “no person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice”. As a result, the US presidents may only contest for re-election once.

Many non-political institutions set limits on term lengths and require office holders to wait a number of years before attempting re-election. 

See also: US President, Legislative Term, Legislature

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