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As far as I can tell, moderator elections happen only when there is a need for (more) moderators: either a new Stack Exchange site comes into being, a moderator resigns or the team needs additional hands. Thus moderators are elected for life.

Is there a mechanism to hold an election if moderators have not stepped down? I am thinking of the British prime minister. A prime minister can serve for life. At intervals there are elections and a prime minister can be replaced, or be re-elected to continue on.

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    The premise is wrong - mod elections also happen in order to elect more moderators. There are basically yearly moderation elections on SO to expand the mod team. For other stacks it would depend on the workload. It's a decision of the current moderators if they need more help. Although CMs might also be involved.
    – VLAZ
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 14:55
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    The system is actually quite like the situation with the British PM: moderators can call a sort of vote of no confidence to have another moderator removed, but ordinary users have no similar power – other than making a huge fuss on meta, providing a convincing argument, and wielding the power of public opinion.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 15:05
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    If the moderator team thinks the workload is too much for the team to handle then an election can be called. The moderator team just has a brief talk with SE. If you think your site should have an election you can probably elicit feedback on your child meta and take the necessary steps forward yourself. One of the previous moderators on the site I moderate 'took over' moderation through a meta post.
    – Peilonrayz
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 15:22
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    Long time no sea Willk ⛵⏳🦋. I have to recall anyone here complaining that the querent is wrong on their premise that it's the whole purpose of their question. Comments telling that there are actually elections beyond what they currently think to exist can actually be answers to said question, instead of comments. Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 15:40

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Whenever a site graduates from beta, elections are (eventually) held, and the current ♦ moderators have to stand in the election in order to be reelected. This happens even though they might have been elected already in a pro-tempore election; this is a remnant from a time where moderators on beta sites were appointed by the company, so it makes sense to have a mature community have a final decision.

Other than that, no matter how much sense it'd make, there is no such mechanism as you describe: "Elections are called as needed by the Stack Exchange Community Team on all sites."

If a moderator behaves badly, as mentioned in the comments, there are several ways to remove them; likewise for inactive moderators, they will be notified by SE staff and eventually removed.

The difference between moderators and the government is that the latter tends to make a lot of executive decisions which make quite a lot of people unhappy; most moderators don't. Individual users here may certainly not be happy with a particular moderator action, but that's usually solved via comments, a meta post or a discussion in chat.

Not with community-wide protests involving tractors blocking roads, visiting certain houses with torches, or like what happened yesterday in the Netherlands, a landslide victory for a far-right party. As I tend to say: every country gets the leader it deserves, but I digress ...

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