Election Deposits - government earns over half million pounds from democracy

In Westminster Elections you have to pay a £500 deposit if you want to stand as a candidate. The deposit is only refunded if the number of votes cast for you is 5% or more.

I lost my deposit as the Alliance Party candidate in Newry and Armagh since I polled 1.2% of votes in the recent election. This is feel is perfectly legitimate after polling only 1.2% of votes, albeit nearly double the amount of votes previously cast when Alliance last contested an election in the area.

The last Government previously considered to reduce the percentage from 5% to 2% in an effort to ensure smaller parties and Independents are not unfairly disadvantaged from the 5% threshold.

Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg today announced some of the proposals which aim to reform politics and restore the peoples faith in politics. When considering the issue of Electoral Reform I hope the new Coalition Government will again look at the proposal to reduce the threshold from 5% for Westminster Elections or perhaps reducing the amount from £500.

I do however however recognise that there are arguments against reducing the threshold to 2% or the amount from £500. When you stand as an election candidate you are entitled to send an Election Communication to every voter in the constituency free of charge via Royal Mail. Frivolous candidates could therefore abuse the system using the election and free postage facility to promote themselves or some frivolous cause.

Whilst these concerns should be borne in mind it should also be considered that smaller parties such as the Green Party and Alliance engaged in the democratic process and fielded candidates in many constituencies to give people the opportunity to exercise their democratic right and choose the party which best represents their views. The Green Party are now left with a hefty bill after engaging in the democratic process because they lost many deposits after fielding over 300 candidates across Great Britain.

In the 2005 General Election the government earned £693,000 from lost deposits. I hope the government will reconsider the matter again after the 2010 General Election to ensure they don't earn over half a million pounds from democracy.

19 May 2010