Everything seems quieter today. It’s nice to start cooling-off day on a chilly Thursday morning. While being in the midst of this election blackout period, here are some neutral and fun facts we gathered about this special Singaporean day from the open Internet.
1. Cooling-off Day has many names
It is also known as “Election silence”, or more literally as “Campaign silence”. Otherwise, you can call it “blackout period”; or in some countries, it bears a rather sophisticated name called the “gentlemen’s agreement” between political parties.
Since we live in Singapore, let’s stick to the term “cooling-off day” for the rest of the article.
2. First implemented during GE2011, aka the Watershed Election
Do you know we are currently experiencing our 3rd cooling-off day?
GE2011 – 6 May 2011
GE2015 – 10 September 2015
GE2020 – 9 July 2020
3. 45 Countries observe Cooling-Off day too
Indeed, we are not alone in this silence.
Courtesy of the contributors of Wikipedia, this is the list of fellow countries:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- North Macedonia
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
- United Kingdom
4. The Cooling-Off Period differs
Whilst Singapore experiences a cooling-off period of 24 hours, the blackout period in other countries ranges from 24 hours to 10 days—the longest being Taiwan. Any release of opinion polls is prohibited starting from 10 days before the Election Day.
For example, the seventh presidential and tenth legislative elections were held on 11 January 2020, and any election-related polls were banned since 1 January 2020.
5. Singapore Play called “Cooling-off Day”
Our homegrown poet and playwright, Alfian Sa’at, was inspired by the implementation of “Cooling-off Day” in 2011 and wrote a play titled “Cooling-off Day”. It was later written into a book and published in 2012.
As the promotional material of the play consists of multiple party symbols, we will not be posting it on a sensitive day such as today.
6. Based on Burson v. Freeman (1992)
The idea of the Cooling-off period was said to have originated from this US Supreme Court case.
During the 1987 election, Mary Freeman was a political candidate treasurer, who was campaigning for the Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County. Freeman filed a suit within Tennessee Chancery Courts after she was prohibited from soliciting votes within 100 feet from the entrances from the polling stations.
Freeman’s appeal was subsequently dismissed on the grounds of “state interest” and “prevent[ing] voter intimidation”.
Since the 100-foot ban was not constitutionalised, a statute was drafted to create a safe zone—to block out any political message—around polling facilities to protect citizen’s to vote freely, which bears the spirit of our “Cooling-off period” in today’s context.
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