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Human Rights Law Directions

Human Rights Law Directions (5th edn)

Howard Davis
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date: 30 March 2023

p. 48825. Article 3 of the First Protocol: right to free electionslocked

p. 48825. Article 3 of the First Protocol: right to free electionslocked

  • Howard DavisHoward DavisReader in Public Law, Bournemouth University


Without assuming prior legal knowledge, books in the Directions series introduce and guide readers through key points of law and legal debate. It discusses European Convention law and relates it to domestic law under the HRA. Questions, discussion points, and thinking points help readers to engage fully with each subject and check their understanding as they progress and knowledge can be tested by self-test questions and exam questions at the chapter end. This chapter deals with Article 3 of the First Protocol which imposes on states a duty to hold elections. At the heart of Article 3 is the view that the best way to uphold human rights is through upholding an ‘effective political democracy’. Human rights require states to respect various rights and freedoms that are necessary for any system if it is to be democratic. Though Article 3 of the First Protocol appears to provide only a collective right to fair elections, it has been interpreted to also provide for individual rights to vote, to stand, and to sit, if elected. Article 3 does not, however, provide wide rights to participate in political processes. Its scope is confined to elections for ‘the legislature’, which do not include local elections or referendums. The controversy over prisoners’ voting rights is discussed in this chapter.

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