In a general election, only registered political parties are able to contest the party vote, be considered for an allocation of election broadcasting time and funds, and access a party election expenses limit.
Unregistered political parties can only stand candidates in electorates, which independent candidates can also contest.
The Electoral Commission is responsible for administering the party registration process. In September 2013 the Electoral Commission revised the registration requirements to:
- enable electronic signatures to be provided for the purpose of evidence of membership
- place a maximum limit (550) on the number of members an applicant can submit in support of an application for registration
- require an electronic spreadsheet of membership evidence to be sumitted with an application for registration as well as signed evidence from each member.
What does a political party need to have to apply for and maintain registration?
There are certain requirements that all political parties must adhere to in order to apply for and maintain their party registrations. They are:
- An acceptable party name (and any abbreviation).
- Satisfactory evidence of at least 500 eligible members.
- Statutory declarations from its party secretary concerning membership, intention to contest general elections and advising of any component parties.
- Party membership rules showing what is required for current financial membership, and candidate selection rules which provide for the democratic involvement of members in the process.
- An auditor (or person who has agreed to be auditor when the party is registered).
- A party secretary with a postal address and contact details.
- Either the secretary, or a sitting MP who is a current financial member of the party, to make the application.
The party should also understand and be prepared to meet the ongoing compliance requirements of being a registered political party.
Each of these requirements is dealt with in the following sections.
This information is provided for guidance and should not be read as a full and final statement of the law. Users should seek their own legal advice if required.
Section references are to the Electoral Act 1993, Part 4 unless stated otherwise.