United Kingdom

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Question Value
1. Is there a ban on donations from foreign interests to political parties?
  • CodeYes
  • CommentIn the UK system a donation to a political party is defined as a contribution exceeding ?500 [I$ 820]. Foreigners cannot make donations since they are not listed as permissible donors, except where they support international travel, accommodation or subsistence by party officers/staff (as long as the amount is 'reasonable').
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2. Is there a ban on donations from foreign interests to candidates?
  • CodeYes
  • CommentDonations to candidates largely follow the same rules as to political parties. Contributions to candidates below ?50 [I$ 82] are not considered as donations and can therefore be made by foreign interests.
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3. Is there a ban on corporate donations to political parties?
  • CodeNo
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4. Is there a ban on corporate donations to candidates?
  • CodeNo
  • CommentDonations to candidates largely follow the same rules as to political parties.
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5. Is there a ban on donations from Trade Unions to political parties?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
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6. Is there a ban on donations from Trade Unions to candidates?
  • CodeNo
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7. Is there a ban on anonymous donations to political parties?
  • CodeYes, above certain threshold
  • CommentBan applies to anonymous donations exceeding ?500 [I$ 820].
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8. Is there a ban on anonymous donations to candidates?
  • CodeYes, above certain threshold
  • CommentBan applies to anonymous donations exceeding ?50 [I$ 82].
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9. Is there a ban on donations from corporations with government contracts to political parties?
10. Is there a ban on donations from corporations with government contracts to candidates?
11. Is there a ban on donations from corporations with partial government ownership to political parties?
12. Is there a ban on donations from corporations with partial government ownership to candidates?
13. Is there a ban on the use of state resources in favour or against a political party or candidate?
  • CodeYes
  • CommentState spending on a political party or candidate would be considered a donation in kind and as such banned. Civil servants are also required to act in a neutral manner.
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14. Is there a limit on the amount a donor can contribute to a political party during a non-election specific period?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
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15. If there is a limit on the amount a donor can contribute to a political party during a non-election specific period, what is the limit?
  • CodeNot applicable
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16. Is there a limit on the amount a donor can contribute to a political party during an election?
  • CodeNo
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17. If there is a limit on the amount a donor can contribute to a political party during an election, what is the limit?
  • CodeNot applicable
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18. Is there a limit on the amount a donor can contribute to a candidate?
  • CodeNo
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19. If there is a limit on the amount a donor can contribute to a candidate, what is the limit?
  • CodeNot applicable
  • Comment
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20. Is there a limit on the amount a candidate can contribute to their own election campaign?
21. Is there a limit on in-kind donations to political parties?
22. Is there a limit on in-kind donations to candidates?
23. Is there a ban on political parties engaging in commercial activities?
24. Is there a ban on political parties taking loans in relation to election campaigns?
25. Is there a ban on candidates taking loans in relation to election campaigns?
26. Is there a ban on donors to political parties/candidates participating in public tender/procurement processes?
27. Are there provisions requiring donations to go through the banking system?

Question Value
28. Are there provisions for direct public funding to political parties?
  • CodeYes, regularly
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29. What are the eligibility criteria for political parties to receive public funding?
  • CodeRepresentation in elected body | Share of votes in previous election | Share of seats in next election
  • CommentSupport relating to the House of Commons; Funding only available to opposition parties which gained one seat and 150,000 votes or two seats in the preceding general election.
    Support relating to the House of Lords; Funding only available to the largest opposition party and to Cross Benches (non-aligned). Note that the House of Lords is unelected.?
    Policy Development Grants are available to parties with at least two Members in the House of Commons who have taken the oath of?allegiance.
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30. What is the allocation calculation for political parties to receive public funding?
  • CodeProportional to votes received | Proportional to seats received |

    Funding related to the House of Lords is determined by the House of Lords 

  • CommentFunding relating to the House of Commons; proportional to seats and votes won. Funding relating to the House of Lords; determined by the House of LordsPolicy Development Grants; Complicated formula weighted by votes won in preceding election
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31. What are the provisions on 'ear marking' direct public funding to political parties (how it should be used)?
  • Code Public funds are earmarked for the purpose on which they are allocated
  • CommentEarmarking includes?Policy development, Support to carry out Parliamentary business, Funding travels and associated expenses, Funding the running costs of the leader of the opposition's office.
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32. Are there provisions for free or subsidized access to media for political parties?
  • CodeYes
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33. What criteria determine allocation for free or subsidized access to media for political parties?
  • CodeNumber of candidates | Other
  • CommentEach broadcaster can set its own rules for allocation. The BBC's 2012 criteria mean that parties can qualify for more broadcasts if it can show substantial level of electoral support.
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34. Are there provisions for free or subsidized access to media for candidates?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment

    Only to political parties

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35. Are there provisions for any other form of indirect public funding?
  • CodeYes
  • CommentThere are provisions for free postage and free use of public meeting rooms?
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36. Is the provision of direct public funding to political parties tied to gender equality among candidates?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
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37. Are there provisions for other financial advantages to encourage gender equality in political parties?
  • CodeNo
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Question Value
38. Is there a ban on vote buying?
  • CodeYes
  • Comment
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39. Are there limits on the amount a political party can spend?
  • CodeYes
  • Comment
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40. If there are limits on the amount a political party can spend, what is the limit?
  • Code £30,000 [I$ 49,000] per constituency or £810,000 [I$ 1,330,000] (England), £120,000 [I$ 198,000] (Scotland) and £60,000 [I$ 99,000] (Wales), whatever is the greater (£30,000 [I$ 49,000] per constituency in Northern Ireland).
  • Comment
    The noted limits only relate to an ordinary general election for the Westminster Parliament. There are also provisions that relate to instances in which there is an overlapping regulated period with other elections within that schedule.
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41. Are there limits on the amount a candidate can spend?
  • CodeYes
  • Commentblank
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42. If there are limits on the amount a candidate can spend, what is the limit?
  • Code Fixed amount combined with amount per registered voter, exact amount depends on type of constituency, and is higher if Parliament has sat for over 55 months.
  • Commentblank
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43. Are there limits on the amount that third parties can spend on election campaign activities?
44. Are there limits on traditional media advertising spending in relation to election campaigns?
45. Are there limits on online media advertising spending in relation to election campaigns?
46. Do any other restrictions on online media advertisement (beyond limits) exist?

Question Value
47. Do political parties have to report regularly on their finances?
  • CodeYes
  • CommentPolitical parties have to make annual Statements of Accounts and quarterly Donation and Loan Returns (with eligibility for exemption).
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48. Do political parties have to report on their election campaign finances?
  • CodeYes
  • CommentPolitical parties have to make the following election specific reports: Weekly donation and loan returns (with eligibility for exemption); Campaign expenditure - party campaign expenditure returns.
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49. Do candidates have to report on their election campaign finances?
  • CodeYes
  • CommentCandidates have to submit spending returns for Parliamentary elections. Loans need not currently be reported.
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50. Do third parties have to report on election campaign finances?
51. Is information in reports from political parties and/or candidates to be made public?
  • CodeYes
  • CommentAll parties' reported financial information i.e. donation/loan reports, campaign expenditure returns and statement of accounts are made available on the Commission's website. This includes pdfs of invoices and receipts for campaign expenditure. I.e. their financial information is publicly available.
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52. Must reports from political parties and/or candidates reveal the identity of donors?
  • CodeSometimes
  • CommentDetails to be included in the donation reports are covered in Schedules 6 and 6A. Donations and loan reports in Northern Ireland are not published (see Part IV Chapter 6 PPERA) due to ongoing security reasons.
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53. Must reports from political parties and/or candidates include information on itemized income?
54. Must reports from political parties and/or candidates include information on itemized spending?
55. Which institution(s) receives financial reports from political parties and/or candidates?
  • CodeSpecial agency for political finance | Other
  • CommentPolitical parties and other regulated entities under PPERA submit returns to the Electoral Commission. In spite of its name, the EC is not technically an EMB since it does not have the power of direction over the running of elections. Candidates submit returns to the relevant officer as prescribed in the relevant piece of legislation. For UK Parliamentary general elections this is the local Returning Officer, often referred to as the (Acting) Returning Officer. Under Section 87A RPA (A)ROs are required to forward copies of the returns on to the Commission.
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56. Which institution(s) is responsible for examining financial reports and/or investigating violations?
  • CodeOther | Special agency for political finance
  • CommentThe Electoral Commission has the main responsibility to investigate breaches of political finance regulations. The police and the courts are also responsible for investigating breaches of political finance regulations.?
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57. What power is granted to the institution(s) responsible for examining reports and/or investigating violations?
58. What sanctions are provided for political finance infractions?
  • CodeFines | Prison | Forfeiture | Deregistration of party
  • CommentVarious warnings ('notices') are given to stop violations, as well as fixed and variable fines, forfeiture and in severe cases imprisonment and deregistration of political parties.
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Disclaimer: Maps presented do not imply on the part of the Institute any judgement on the legal status of any territory or the endorsement of such boundaries, nor does the placement or size of any country or territory reflect the political view of International IDEA. Maps are used in order to add visual clarity to data.