Non-party campaigners: Where to start

Does your campaign activity meet the purpose test?

You can work out whether your campaign meets the purpose test by looking at the following:

  • whether it includes a call to action to voters
  • tone
  • context and timing
  • how a reasonable person would see your activity

These factors should be considered as a whole rather than individually. 

You can use the questions below to help you look at these factors. If, on balance, the answer to the questions is ‘yes’, then it is likely that your campaigning activity meets the purpose test. 

If one or two of the answers is ‘yes’, that does not necessarily mean that your campaign activity meets the purpose test. The questions are a guide for how to decide whether the activity is reasonably regarded as intended to influence voters in who they vote for.

Call to action to voters. 

Is your campaign asking people to vote for or against a particular political party, parties or category of candidate at an upcoming election? Can it reasonably be seen as implicitly asking them to? Would someone think that your campaign is asking them to? 

It is unlikely that a public campaign without an explicit or implicit call to action to voters will meet the purpose test.

Tone. 

Are you negative or positive towards: 

  • a political party or parties, 
  • a category of candidate, or 
  • a policy closely and publicly associated with a party or category of candidate?

Context and timing. 

Context:

Are you campaigning on a policy that will make a voter think of a particular party or category of candidates? For example:

  • Does the policy clearly represent an area of difference between political parties that the voters you are targeting are likely to be aware of? 
  • Are the policy and political parties’ views on it prominent in public debate at the time that you design and launch your campaign?
  • Are you campaigning as a reaction to a policy or position of a political party? 

Timing:

Did your campaign start close to the date of an election? The closer the election is, the more likely it is that a reasonable person would think that your campaign is intended to influence people to vote for or against a political party, parties or category of candidate. 

If your campaign has been running for a long time prior to the election, it is less likely that a reasonable person would think it is aimed at the election.

How would a reasonable person see your activity?

Would a reasonable person think your campaign is intended to influence people to vote for or against a political party, parties or category of candidate at an upcoming election?
 

Last updated: 23 September 2019