I was of the understanding that there were rules concerning the signage for candidates in the upcoming election — when signage may go up and when it must be taken down. My understanding is that no signs were to go up till parliament had been dissolved and must be taken down prior to the polls opening. There is a very good chance that my understanding is not correct. The reason I am asking is that signs are sprouting now all over the island.
My question to you is: What are the rules, how are they made known to the candidates, and who is charged with enforcement? A level playing field for all running is important to the election process. I feel that the public and those running need to be educated about what is expected.
Auntie’s answer: You are right that there are rules about the putting up and taking down of election billboards, but the rules have changed. Previously, as you said, candidates had to wait until Nomination Day, when they all become official, marking the real beginning to the campaigning for the general election. And, yes, that day is also when parliament is dissolved.
However, on 15 February 2017, the Central Planning Authority resolved to change their previous policy and permit election signs to be put up before Nomination Day, which is 29 March this year, without needing planning permission.
So that explains why you have been seeing all of the billboards being erected all over the place.
And, though you did not ask, there are no specific rules regarding where to put the signs and what size they can be.
What hasn’t changed is the rule on when these signs must be taken down, which is specified in the Elections Law (2013 Revision). According to Section 76, “No political broadcast, election advertising or political announcement shall be permitted on a polling day.” That provision, which covers election signs, translates into all billboards coming down by the end of Tuesday, 23 May.