Deposit (politics)

Deposit (politics)

A deposit is a sum of money that a candidate must pay in return for the right to stand for election to certain political offices, particularly seats in legislatures.


United Kingdom

Currently, the deposit in elections to the House of Commons is £500, which must be handed in, in cash, banker's draft, or other forms of legal tender, when the candidate submits his or her nomination papers. It is refunded provided that the candidate gains one-twentieth (5%) or more of the total valid votes cast in the constituency.[1]

Between 1918 and 1985, the cost of a Parliamentary deposit was £150 but the threshold for retaining it (i.e., having the money returned to the candidate) was winning one-eighth (12.5%) of total valid votes cast.[2]

Deposits also must be paid by candidates for election to the Scottish Parliament,[3] the National Assembly for Wales,[4] for Mayor of London or a member of the London Assembly,[5] the Northern Ireland Assembly[6] or British constituencies of the European Parliament.[7] A deposit of £500 is also required for mayoral elections in those English or Welsh local authorities that govern by the election of an executive mayor.[8] Deposits are also required in the electoral jurisdictions of countries other than the United Kingdom, particularly those that have parallels with the Westminster parliamentary system.

In recent times, a candidate for a major party losing their deposit in an election is regarded as something of an embarrassment.[9]


In Canada, a candidate for Member of Parliament must place a $1000 deposit. Formerly, failure to reach 10% of the vote led to the loss of the deposit. At present, all candidates receive their deposit back if they turn in their properly completed financial paperwork on time, and a portion of election expenses are reimbursed if 10% is reached. Nevertheless, the phrases "lose one's deposit" and "get one's deposit back" are still commonly heard in political circles.

Republic of Ireland

In the Republic of Ireland, candidates for election to Dáil Éireann must pay a deposit of €500 if they fail to meet one of two criteria. Candidates nominated by political parties registered to contest Dáil elections, and non-party candidates who provide detailed information of 30 electors in the constituency who assent to their nomination, do not have to pay a deposit.[10] This follows a High Court ruling; the court found that the obligatory payment of deposits was repugnant to the Constitution.[11]

Candidates who pay a deposit get repaid if their final vote total, under the single transferable vote electoral system, exceeds one-quarter of the Droop quota for their constituency. This is also the threshold that candidates' votes must exceed to claim an election expenses allowance from the State.


In the Republic of India, candidates for election to the lower house of the parliament - Lok Sabha must pay a security deposit of INR 10,000. For state assembly elections the amount is INR 5,000. For Scheduled castes and scheduled tribes candidates the amounts are 5,000 and 2,500 respectively. A candidate will forfeit his deposit if he polls less than one-sixth of the total valid votes cast in a First-past-the-post voting voting system.[12][13][14]


In Malaysia, the deposit is RM 10,000 to contest a parliamentary seat and RM 5,000 to contest a state assembly seat (increased from RM 5,000 and RM 3,000, respectively, in 2004). Since 2004, it was required that each candidate provide an additional RM 5,000 deposit for cleaning up banners and posters after the election. This increase is seen by some as having led to the government winning a record number of seats without contest in 2004 (17 parliamentary seats were won without contest). The deposit is used to pay for infringements of election laws and is returned after polling day unless the candidate loses and fails to garner more than 1/8 of the vote.[15]


  1. ^ Electoral Commission Factsheet, June 2007
  2. ^ "Election Resources on the Internet: Parliamentary Elections in the U.K. - Elections to the House of Commons". Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  3. ^ "81877-COI-EC-Part C-Scots" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  4. ^ "naw-report-booklet-eng.qxp" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ Guidance for candidates and agents, Northern Ireland Assembly elections, March 2007
  7. ^ "Microsoft Word - faq.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  8. ^ "Mayoral Election 2009". Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  9. ^ UK’s Tory-LibDem coalition avert by-election embarrassment, can forge ahead shrinking government, Washington Examiner, 14 January 2011
  10. ^ Electoral (Amendment) Act 2007
  11. ^ "Law to abolish election deposit". Irish Independent. 22 March 2002. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  12. ^ "FAQs - Contesting for Elections". Election Commission of India. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  13. ^ "Electoral system in India". National Institute of Open schooling. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  14. ^ "Forfeited deposits fill EC coffers". Times of India. 24 April 2004. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  15. ^ Rahman, Rashid A. (1994). The Conduct of Elections in Malaysia, p. 133. Kuala Lumpur: Berita Publishing. ISBN 967-969-331-7.

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