What does Purdah mean in relation to UK general
elections?

What does Purdah mean in relation to UK general elections?

After a cabinet meeting the Prime Minister has shared it will take place on Thursday, July 4.

Due to the general election being called the government is now in a Purdah period, but what does that actually mean?

What does Purdah mean in relation to UK general elections?

As stated on the Parliament website: “The pre-election period (purdah) is the term used to describe the period between the time an election is announced and the date the election is held.

“Civil servants are given official guidance by the Cabinet Office on the rules they must follow in relation to Government business during this time.”

Where does the word Purdah come from?

Purdah is Hindustani in origin and literally refers to a curtain or veil, which was traditionally used to screen women from male view.

The word came to be a general term for the South Asian practices of segregating the sexes and keeping women’s bodies concealed.

In English use, the word has the extended sense of “a period of seclusion or isolation” which demonstrates its use in politics.



Purdah has quite a big impact on civil servants as they must be politically impartial during this time.

Any new government initiatives must not be announced that could be seen as advantageous to any candidates or parties in the forthcoming election.

The House of Commons Library website adds: “The pre-election period for the UK and devolved governments and their civil servants is not set out in law but is governed by conventions.


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“Backbench and Opposition MPs are not constrained by the pre-election period of sensitivity.

“However, all MPs, elected politicians and candidates will need to ensure they abide by campaign finance and election law during an election period.

“Local authorities have their own set of rules that are set out in statutory guidance.”

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