On this page you will find guidance and information for individuals and organisations that campaign in the run up to elections but do not stand as political parties or candidates.
We call these individuals and organisations non-party campaigners. In electoral law they are called third parties.
There are rules non-party campaigners must follow on campaign spending, donations and reporting. We regulate those rules.
In the run-up to certain elections, there is a set time when the rules on spending and donations apply. We call this time the 'regulated period'. The rules will differ depending on which election is being held.
Elections in 2017
Northern Ireland Assembly
An election for the Northern Ireland Assembly was called on Monday 16 January. The election will be held on Thursday 2 March.
The general campaigning rules under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) will apply to this election so you may need to register with us. We have produced guidance outlining the rules for this event:
In 2017 there are no other elections where the rules we regulate will apply. You can still register with us and your name will appear on our register. There will be no reporting requirements unless a regulated period comes into operation.
The following elections are also being held in 2017:
- Local elections in Scotland
- Local elections in Wales and England
- Combined authority mayoral elections in England
Local campaigning rules will apply in these elections. Breaches of these rules are dealt with by the police. Find out how local campaigning rules work in England and Wales (PDF).
Find information for Scotland in our candidate spending and donations guidance (PDF)
Do I need to register?
An election for the Northern Ireland Assembly was called on [insert date]. The election will be held on [insert date].
If you intend to spend more than £10,000 in the regulated period for that election, you must register with us. Find out more about registering with us (PDF).
The rules on general campaigning do not apply to any of the other elections being held in 2017. It is not necessary to register with us for those elections.
Are you holding a hustings?
A hustings is a meeting where election candidates or parties debate policies and answer questions from the audience. Hustings provide voters with an opportunity to hear the views of candidates or parties.
In many cases, spending on hustings will not be regulated. However, under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 or the Representation of the People Act 1983, spending on some hustings may be regulated. We do not regulate the conduct or management of a hustings.
Hustings can be ‘selective’ or ‘non-selective’.
A non-selective hustings is a hustings that would not reasonably be regarded as intended to influence voters to vote for or against particular political parties or candidates. For example, where you have invited all the parties standing candidates in your electoral area or you have impartial reasons for not inviting some of the parties.
Your spending on a non-selective hustings is not regulated and will not count towards any spending limits or registration thresholds.
A selective hustings is a hustings that would reasonably be regarded as intended to influence voters to vote for or against particular political parties or candidates – for example, if you invite some candidates or parties to your hustings and do not have impartial reasons for excluding the others.
Spending on a selective hustings may, in certain circumstance, be regulated and count towards your spending limit or registration threshold in the run up to an election.
In our view, your hustings will be non-selective if:
- you have invited all the candidates or parties known to be standing in the constituency, region or other electoral area, or
- you have impartial reasons for not inviting certain candidates or parties
You can choose whether your hustings is selective or non-selective.
If you hold a non-selective hustings then the spending will not be regulated.
Usually spending on a hustings is low, and it is unlikely that spending on a selective hustings alone will require you to register or reach a spending limit.
If you hold a selective hustings, you should keep a record of how much you spend, along with any other spending on regulated campaigning, and be aware of the registration thresholds and spending limits.
If you spend a large amount of money on organising a selective hustings, or you engage in further regulated campaign activity during a regulated period, then you may need to be aware of the spending limits and registration thresholds. These can be found in our hustings guidance (PDF).