There will be a number of elections occurring on the same day in your area, so you will need to decide which one(s) you will host a hustings for. If you are unsure which elections are relevant for your neighbourhood, you can have a look here – Upcoming elections | Electoral Commission.
The deadline for nominating candidates for all of the elections is Thursday 8 April. After this point, the returning officer for the respective elections will publish a list of candidates for each election.
You will then be able to contact them through the political parties locally or nationally, via social media or candidates’ own websites should they have them.
If you want to get in touch before this time, you can use www.democraticdashboard.com to find out who is currently known to be standing in your area.
You should ask each candidate for the name, phone number and email address of the candidate’s election agent so you can keep in touch in the run-up to the event.
At elections to the Senedd, voters are represented by a constituency Member, elected by first-past-the-post, as well as several regional Members, who are elected on a proportional representation system.
Some smaller parties might not put up constituency candidates, but instead only stand for the regional seats.
If you are organising hustings for the Senedd, you should decide if you want to invite only the local constituency candidates, or instead have representatives of all the parties standing in the constituency and region – try to think what is likely to be most useful for your area and is in the best interests of fair public debate.
No – but if you don’t, you must have an objective, impartial reason for not including all of them.
The simplest approach is to invite all the relevant candidates in the area or all political parties campaigning in the election and allow all those attending an equal opportunity to participate.
However, this may not always be practical. For example, there may be so many candidates or parties standing that a meeting would be hard to manage – this is especially true for local council elections and the regional lists in the Senedd, where a number of seats may be up for election. If you decide not to invite all candidates, there are some good-practice recommendations you should follow to ensure your hustings is genuinely not promoting particular candidates or parties more than others.
- Being able to give impartial reasons why you have not invited particular candidates or parties. You should be prepared to explain your reasons to candidates or parties you haven’t invited. If you didn’t wish to invite a candidate because you don’t agree with their policies, this would not be an impartial reason. Neither would inviting or not inviting a candidate because of their actual or perceived religious affiliation. Whilst this may sometimes be legitimate under charity law, it has consequences for candidates under electoral law, as spending on such hustings may count as election expenditure. In this situation, the amount spent needs to be divided by the number of candidates: if it is over £50 each then the candidates need to be notified to include it in their returns to the Electoral Commission. You should consult the Electoral Commission’s guidelines on organising a Selective Hustings (see https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/are-you-holding-a-hustings/selective-hustings) as this will be subject to regulation. You may be required to register with the Commission and ensure that the candidates that you do invite declare your support for them. For these reasons, it is recommended that you invite all candidates, unless there is an impartial reason for you doing so. Impartial reasons may include:
- Local prominence of some parties or candidates over others
- The number of elected representatives of that party at the local or national level
- Recent election results in the area
- Resources and other practicalities constraining the number of invitees
- Security concerns.
- Making sure that candidates or parties you invite represent a reasonable variety of views, from different parts of the political spectrum – for local elections or the regional lists in the Senedd, each party should be invited to choose a single candidate, even though multiple candidates from that party are standing in the election.
- Allowing each candidate or party representative attending a fair chance to answer questions and, where appropriate, a reasonable opportunity to respond to points made against them by other candidates or party representative.
- Informing the audience at the meeting of candidates or parties standing who have not been invited. It is good practice to invite such candidates to submit a short, written statement (of the same length as the opening statements of parties who are present) to be read out by the chair at the start of the meeting.