Political finance regulation at the June 2017 UK general election
On this page you can find our report on political finance regulation at the June 2017 UK general election.
The report identifies specific issues that emerged during the June 2017 UK Parliamentary general election campaign and highlights the proactive work we undertook to ensure that candidates, political parties and non-party campaigners were informed of, and complied with, the rules.
Regulating the election
Having an early election at short notice presented practical challenges for parties and other campaigners, but we were able to work constructively with many of them. For the most part, we are pleased to observe that parties and other campaigners intended to, and did, comply with election spending and funding rules. We will monitor the spending returns that are due in later this year to check that this was indeed the case.
Candidates, political parties and non-party campaigners made significant use of digital campaigning in this election. This provides new opportunities for campaigners to engage voters. But there are also risks to transparency and confidence for voters, for example, relating to the use of enhanced direct targeting techniques, including ‘bots’, and there is room to improve election law in this area.
The total amount of spending reported to date by non-party campaigners at the June 2017 general election (just over £1.57 million) highlights the significant role that they can play during election campaigns, and illustrates why it is important that there are rules about their funding and spending.
Looking ahead: regulation at future elections
We are ready to work with the UK’s governments and legislatures to bring about the changes that are needed to provide further transparency about spending on digital and online campaigns. We repeat our previous recommendations that campaigners should be required to provide imprints on digital and online campaign material, and that staffing costs for all types of campaigners should be regulated. These changes would increase transparency for voters about who is seeking to influence their vote during election campaigns, and what techniques are being used.
We also repeat our calls for having more robust powers in place to deal with breaches of the rules and that our investigative and sanctioning powers at major elections should be extended to include offences relating to candidate spending and donations. Most campaigners follow the rules, but failures to comply can reduce transparency for voters and confidence that an election was well run. It is therefore important that when breaches do occur they are dealt with robustly and effectively.
The time has come for these changes to be implemented by the UK’s governments and legislatures, ahead of the next national elections in 2021 and 2022.