Due to not reaching an agreement about Brexit, the United Kingdom is forced to hold European elections a few weeks from now, on May 23rd. The elected members (across the European Union) will be installed as the new European parliament on July 1st; however, if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union before that date, these elections will have been completely unnecessary:

Government sources say if the Brexit process is completed before 30 June, UK MEPs will not take up their seats at all.

(source: BBC)

Of course, the election will double as a poll, but (in case of a speedy Brexit) there will be no tangible effects. As far as I can tell, this is a rather unique situation, so I was wondering:

Have there been any elections before (preferably on national level) which were not declared invalid (e.g. by a court) yet rendered completely irrelevant by later events?

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    Do elections rendered irrelevant by force of arms (e.g., a coup or a foreign invasion) count? – Michael Seifert May 7 '19 at 18:08
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    @MichaelSeifert good point; I'd prefer events without violence. – Glorfindel May 7 '19 at 18:42
  • @DenisdeBernardy interesting, but doesn't this paragraph imply that they've actually 'taken their seats' on May 5th, 1789? The Istanbul elections were in the news while I was writing the question, that's why I've excluded elections which were declared invalid (or whatever the technical term is). That happens all too often, unfortunately... – Glorfindel May 7 '19 at 18:45
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    The NI Assembly hasn't sat for two years, although it did sit for a while so the election wasn't "completely" irrelevant. – user May 8 '19 at 8:53
  • Do non-binding plebiscites count? I'm thinking of something like the 1898 Canadian prohibition plebiscite, which due to low turnout and a close result was basically just ignored by the Laurier government. – Michael Seifert May 9 '19 at 21:55

I suggest the Greek referendum in July 2015 that rejected the EU memorandum about their national debt.

The pressure put by the (mostly German) EU negotiators and the threat to block Greek banks induced Alexis Tsipras to accept a very similar, supposedly even harsher, memorandum a few days later.

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I'd say the most obvious one is the elections in Catalonia about independence from Spain. It was rendered irrelevant because of the strong reaction from the central governement of Spain.

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    Arguably, it's not entirely irrelevant. It's still a political statement coming from large chunk of citizens of Catalonia. Furthermore it, and Spanish reaction, can be used to further political goals. In straight up "did voting get us independence" it's irrelevant indeed, but it's got political relevance that might be leveraged in other ways. – M i ech Jun 14 '19 at 10:55
  • @Miech sure, fair enough. – Jacob Oscarson Jun 14 '19 at 11:05
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    Question is whether that counts as an election considering it was ruled illegal by the court of Spain. – user19831 Jun 19 '19 at 13:54
  • @Miech - That could be said about any "irrelevant" election. Even if it is anyhow left without effects, it has been a political statement. – Pere Jun 19 '19 at 20:49

In 2008, Dmitry Medvedev was elected President of Russia.

One day after Dmitry Medvedev assumed the office of President, Vladimir Putin became the Prime Minister of Russia.

I would suggest that later event rendered Medvedev's election largely irrelevant, but perhaps not completely irrelevant. It may be a matter of some opinion.

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    Wasn't that by design, though? As in Putin changed the constitution and shifted swaths of power from the President to the Prime Minister in order to stay in power in spite of the 2 term limit. – Denis de Bernardy Jun 14 '19 at 16:07

The New Forest and Barkston Ash by-elections in 1905. Parliament was not in session at the time, and did not come into session before the 1906 general election at which the results were different, so the MPs who were elected in 1905 never took up their seats.

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