Alternatives to term limits
October 8, 2011 9:19 PM   Subscribe

Are there any countries that have mandatory waiting periods between elected office stints?

I'd naively envision some system where serious candidates were paid a reasonable salary simply for doing nothing but campaigning but were forbidden from holding other jobs, like elected office, lobbyist positions, etc. I'd imagine such a system would work best when the time between elections is shorter than the terms because officials are elected for overlapping them, ala replace 1/3rd the legislature every 2 years with 6 year terms. I'm asking however if anyplace does anything even remotely similar, including even simply paying the candidates perhaps. Or perhaps elections for some important non-governmental organization?
posted by jeffburdges to Law & Government (5 answers total)
The closest thing I can think of are states or other non-federal municipalities in the U.S. where there's a waiting period between term limits. For instance, in Alaska, you can only serve two consecutive terms as governor, but if you "take a term off," you can then serve again (I believe two more terms, and so on). I mention this example because ex-Gov. Tony Knowles, who served as Alaska's governor from 1994 to 2002, was barred from serving a third straight term, but was able to run again in 2006. (Unsuccessfully, I might add — losing to none other than Sarah Palin.)

This of course stands in contrast to the term limits imposed on the presidency by the 22nd amendment, which set a lifetime maximum of two terms.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 12:15 AM on October 9, 2011

Your question made the cynic in me think of the Russian Federation.

No person may serve as President of the Russian Federation for more than two consecutive terms.

When Vladimar Putin had served two terms as Russian President in 2008 he made it clear that his preference for the next President was Dmitry Medvedev. Dmitry Medvedev was indeed elected at which point he appointed Mr Putin as Prime Minister.

Here we are approaching the next Russian electoral cycle and Mr Medvedev has decided that he doesn't wish to run for President again but that he thinks Mr Putin would make a marvellous President ! There are few grounds for doubting that Mr Putin will indeed be elected in 2012.

So this isn't quite what you describe but that seeing as Putin stayed on the payroll while waiting out a term of office it seemed to me it was worth mentioning.

Returning specifically to your question i really don't see how you could determine which candidates were 'serious candidates' at any given time. There's enough fuss about paying pols in the first place without deciding to pay some of them to have a multi-year holiday.
posted by southof40 at 1:54 AM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I don't know about other countries, but I know a surprising amount of Australian election funding and candidate rules. It's not exactly what you're asking, but I think it might be a helpful data point. Hopefully.

So. In Australia you cannot campaign for election while being employed by the government. If you're a public servant, you definitely need to resign before you start campaigning. It would be wise to resign from any boards or committees too since there have been some eligibility challenges due to board membership, iirc. (I don't believe there's any amount of time you need to wait before campaigning, so long as it doesn't overlap.)

The constitution (section 44 iv) rules ineligible any person who:
Holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any f the revenues of the Commonwealth


But sub-section iv. does not apply to the office of any of the Queen’s Ministers of State for the Commonwealth, or of any of the Queen’s Ministers for a State, or to the receipt of pay, half pay, or a pension, by any person as an officer or member of the Queen’s navy or army, or to the receipt of pay as an officer or member of the naval or military forces of the Commonwealth by any person whose services are not wholly employed by the Commonwealth.
And re. funding, Australian political parties and independent candidates do receive some public funding for campaigning. .I think it's about $2 for each first preference vote.

(I just looked it up, and in 2011 it's up to $2.3888/vote, but to be eligible for funding candidates must receive at least 4% of the formal first preference vote.)

(Electorates have about 70,00 to 80,000 voters and between 90% and 95% voter turnout.)
posted by coffeepot at 5:29 AM on October 9, 2011

I believe there were rules like this in the Roman Republic. I'm traveling and can't find the details.
posted by grobstein at 1:28 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's Wikipedia on the Roman cursus honorum:
The cursus honorum (Latin: "course of offices") was the sequential order of public offices held by aspiring politicians in both the Roman Republic and the early Empire. It was designed for men of senatorial rank. The cursus honorum comprised a mixture of military and political administration posts. Each office had a minimum age for election. There were minimum intervals between holding successive offices and laws forbade repeating an office.
The same article on the consulship:
After a consulship, a consul was assigned one of the more important provinces and acted as the governor in the same way that a Propraetor did, only owning Proconsular imperium. A second consulship could only be attempted after an interval of 10 years to prevent one man holding too much power.
The Athenian concept of ostracism seems related -- powerful individuals were ostracized for a term of years to keep them at bay.
posted by grobstein at 9:33 AM on October 12, 2011

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