Non-party campaigners: UK Parliamentary general elections

What is a non-party campaigner?

Some individuals and organisations that are not registered political parties campaign for or against political parties or candidates or on issues around elections, without standing candidates themselves.

In electoral law, these individuals and organisations are defined as third parties. The Commission calls them non-party campaigners.

There are laws that non-party campaigners must follow on campaign spending, donations, and reporting.

Many individuals and organisations campaign in the run up to elections and meet the definition of a non-party campaigner but are not covered by the regulatory regime.

The two types of non-party campaigns

There are two types of non-party campaigns. These are:

Local campaigns General campaigns

Campaigns for or against:

  • one or more candidates
  • in a particular constituency, or other electoral area1

Campaigns for or against:

  • one of more parties
  • parties or candidates that support or do not support particular policies
  • other categories of candidate2

Local campaigns

At UK Parliamentary general elections (UKPGEs), local campaigns are covered by the Representation of the People Act 1983 (RPA). Under the law, local campaigns are subject to a spending limit. This limit is £700 on campaigning for or against one or more candidates in a constituency3 . There are different spending limits for local campaigns at each type of election.

The Electoral Commission does not regulate local campaigning and this guidance does not cover the local campaign regulations in detail.

Please see our guidance for local campaigners for more information about these campaigns.

Complaints about breaches of the laws that apply to local campaigns should be made to the police.

General campaigns

The laws for general campaigns are set out under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA). These campaigns are regulated by the Electoral Commission.

If you are campaigning for or against political parties or categories of candidates, you may need to register with us and follow the laws on campaign spending, donations, and reporting.

These are set out in this guidance.

Last updated: 12 December 2023