What are the consequences of getting it wrong?

The reason I have started this section by banging on about spending rules and general rules for the campaign period, is because the consequences of breaking them can be serious.

There is a section in the official guidance (on page 17) which talks about expenditure-related offences. As you can see, breaking the rules could lead to a fine, or even cost you your seat.

These legal provisions exist because an election is a very big deal. When you are elected, you have a power to make decisions that can affect people’s lives and liberty, and that involve the allocation of huge amounts of public funds and resources. This might not have been so obvious a year ago, but living through the pandemic has really demonstrated it. So it is important that elections are genuine, fair and free – so the public have a real choice about who gets to make those decisions that affect them. The sanctions are high because the stakes are high.

All the same, I want to acknowledge that in Guernsey, these sanctions feel scary in a way they might not in other places. Political candidates in other countries usually have the benefit of professional assistance, often from well-established parties. This means it’s not their responsibility alone to know the rules – they’ve got people whose job it is to look out for them.

So that’s why I’m taking the time to point out that there are rules and that they can have serious consequences. (And, as always, that the official guidance is the best place to start learning your way around those rules.) It’s not to put you off – rather, the opposite. If you know what the rules are and where you can find them, you can go into this with open eyes. We’re more or less on our own here, and each of us is muddling through, trying to do the best we can. I hope this helps you to muddle through a bit more confidently, or at least to know what kind of questions to ask!

Go back to Getting Into Guernsey Politics
Go back to Section 1.2: Getting Elected
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