Registration of Political Parties Act 1998

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Registration of Political Parties Act 1998
Citation 1998 c. 48
Territorial extent United Kingdom
Royal assent 19 November 1998
Revised text of statute as amended

The Registration of Political Parties Act 1998 (c. 48), or An Act to make provision about the registration of political parties was an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to set up a register of political parties in the United Kingdom. Previously there had been no such register, and political parties were not specially recognised. There are currently[when?] 342 political parties registered in the UK.

The legislation was introduced for a variety of reasons. It was planned to introduce some elements of list-based proportional representation in elections to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, and for that, political parties needed to have a stronger legal recognition. Additionally, various pieces of legislation needed to refer to parties and so were using ad hoc definitions, which might have been incompatible.

Another motivation was the use of the names Literal Democrats, Conversative Party and Labor Party by people in elections in the 1990s. The use of the name Literal Democrats was condemned as potentially confusing with the Liberal Democrats. In the 1994 European Elections, Richard Huggett stood as a Literal Democrat candidate for the Devon and East Plymouth seat, taking more votes than the Conservative Party margin over the Liberal Democrats.[1]

The legislation therefore introduced a register of political parties; and included provisions to prohibit 'confusion' with already-existing parties, names that were 'more than six words', or were 'obscene or offensive'.

As logos were also to be permitted on ballot papers, the act also introduced a similar register for emblems, which had the result that the Communist Party of Britain is the only party in the United Kingdom permitted to use the hammer and sickle as its ballot paper logo, although they usually use the hammer and dove variant. Parties may register more than one emblem, or none at all, most have two or three.

The act was amended by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (2000 c. 41) to change the registration authority to the Electoral Commission.