Electoral Commission issues new guidance on ‘non-party’ campaigning

The Electoral Commission has just published new guidance on the regulation of campaign spending by ‘non-party campaigners’ around election periods

The new guidance is intended to provide greater clarity on the regulation of campaign spending by ‘non-party campaigners’ i.e. individuals and organisations who campaign around election periods without standing candidates themselves. Campaigning spend by organisations in Northern Ireland can be regulated if –

  • It occurs during the ‘regulated period’ of a particular election (these vary for different elections)
  • You spend or plan to spend more than £10,000 on regulated activity during the regulated period
  • The campaign activity meets the ‘public test’ – ie if your activity is aimed at the public or a section of the public
  • The campaigning activity meets the ‘purpose test’

The guidance indicates that, ‘In almost all cases an activity will meet the purpose test if it:

  • identifies political parties or candidates who support or do not support your campaign’s aims
  • sets out or compares the position of political parties or candidates on a policy you are promoting in a way that can reasonably be regarded as intended to influence voters to vote for or against particular parties or candidates promotes
  • opposes policies which are so closely and publicly associated with a party or parties or with categories of candidate that it is reasonable to regard your campaign activity as intended to influence  voters to vote for or against political parties or candidates’

The guidance also includes details on the rules relating to staff costs and overheads and joint campaigning, and gives case study examples to illustrate what campaign activity would or would not be regulated and how the rules would be applied in different circumstances.

For the full guidance visit the Electoral Commission’s website here -https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/non-party-campaigners-where-start

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