Free choice

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A core component of the right to vote principle of free choice include the ability within the franchise to run free and candidates to support and freely express their own voice. Closely related to this is the concept of secret voting .


As freely with respect to the right to vote one is choice then referred to when each voter's voice itself (generally that is his ballot ) unaffected, can deliver and unmanipulated without coercion. If this is only possible to a limited extent, one speaks of partially free or semi-free elections .

In addition, the freedom of the candidates and parties to stand for an election (freedom to stand for election ) and to be able to campaign without discrimination is an essential element of the principle of freedom of choice. It is therefore incompatible with the principle of democracy if z. B. selectively banning the installation of election posters for individual parties.

The principle of freedom of choice also includes the government and election officials' obligation to be neutral before the election. The public relations work of the government must not serve the election campaign. Since the demarcation of public relations and advertising is naturally difficult and the holders of government and electoral offices are parties to the election, conflicts and judicial clarifications are more frequent on this topic. This goes so far that the supreme court also regards the silence of essential facts by election officials as a violation of the principle of freedom of choice.

The compatibility of opinion manipulation through false promises or false or defamatory statements before the election, in particular false or defamatory statements by one party about another party or its election candidates, is controversial.


The right to free elections was enshrined in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms ( European Convention on Human Rights , ECHR), but due to disputes only in the 1st Protocol (Additional Protocol) of March 20, 1952 , one and a half years after the Convention itself:

"The High Contracting Parties undertake to hold free and secret elections at appropriate intervals under conditions that guarantee the free expression of the opinion of the people in the election of the legislative bodies."

- Article 3 1st Prot. ECHR

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union  (GRCh), proclaimed in 2000 but only entered into force on December 1, 2009 with the Treaty of Lisbon , since it was intended as the basis for a common European constitution, essentially takes over the fundamental rights from the European Convention on Human Rights. But it only regulates the European elections :

"The members of the European Parliament are elected by general, direct, free and secret ballot."

- Article 39 paragraph 2 GRCh (as amended 2012 / C 326/02)

Individual evidence

  1. BVerfGE 14, 121 (131/32).
  2. Compare the decisions of the Federal Administrative Court in the matter of Reinhard Wolters .