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Political Tutor: How to Start Your Own Political Party?

New political parties seem to be springing up everywhere at the moment - and the latest one to be launched in Harare recently is Viva Zimba...

New political parties seem to be springing up everywhere at the moment - and the latest one to be launched in Harare recently is Viva Zimbabwe fronted by controversial former Zanu PF cadre Acie Lumumba. 

So just how easy is it to form a new party? And what are the chances of success? Here is a brief guide to doing it yourself.

Choose a name 

This is trickier than you might think.

You can not use a name that is already registered with the Electoral Commission, or one that sounds too much like another party or is considered obscene. It can not be longer than six words either.

Even a celebrity name does not guarantee success. Nationalistic sentiments are also frowned upon. You cannot call your party the British Party or the Scottish Party.
Acie Lumumba During the Launch of his Party in Harare Recently  

It must be qualified by another word in the title, hence the United Kingdom Independence Party or the British National Party.

You cannot call yourself the Official Party either or, indeed, the Unofficial Party. Royal names, such as Queen or Her Majesty, are also strictly forbidden and you can not try to cash in on the apathy vote by calling your party 'none of the above'.

Make it official 
If you want to use your new party name on a ballot paper, you will need to register with the Electoral Commission.

That means handing over a fee of £150, drawing up a party constitution and a financial statement and nominating a leader and a treasurer. Electoral Commission staff will help with the paperwork.

You can also register up to three party logos and up to 12 descriptions of what the party stands for, which can be used on ballot papers.

Now it starts to get interesting. This is your chance to set out your ideas for a better world.

Although, strictly speaking, you do not really need a manifesto to fight the European elections, as you are not actually bidding to form a government.

The Jury Team, the party set up by former Tory grandee Sir Paul Judge "to bring about radical change while working within the established constitution" has not got any policies.

Anyone can put themselves forward as a candidate - and come up with policies - and the public will choose who should stand as a candidate. Other parties use the European elections purely as a way of gaining attention for their political campaigns and gathering protest votes.

Cheque book 
Campaigning can be a costly business. But before you can even consider printing leaflets or buying advertising space, there is the small matter of deposits.

So to run a national campaign with candidates in all 12 regions will cost at least £65,000. Candidates will get the money back if they gain 2.5 percent of the vote in their region. But that is no small achievement.

Or, if you want to trim your costs, you can qualify for a party election broadcast in England on the BBC or ITV by putting up candidates in the nine regions (cost £45,000). You can get party election broadcasts in Scotland and Wales - which count as one region each - for £5,000 each.

Find a wealthy backer 
Most new parties want to be seen as genuine grass roots movements. But to stand a chance of taking on the big parties, small donations are probably not going to be enough.

Everyone would like to do a Barack Obama, who raised millions in small donations for his US Presidential campaign but, in reality, you are probably going to need find some wealthy backers.

Recruit candidates 
One of the joys of starting a new party is that you do not have to recruit candidates from the ranks of professional politicians.

You can cast your net wider and bring in people who have not necessarily been compromised by the existing system. But you will also want to pick people who are not going to embarrass your new party or bring it the wrong kind of publicity.

Launch your campaign 
This is where the reality of what you are up against will start to kick in. You might passionately believe that there is a hunger out there for a new party, a new type of politics even - but getting anyone to listen to your message will not be easy.

You will be entitled to the free use of rooms in town halls for public meetings and a copy of the electoral register to help with mail-outs. But after that you are on your own.

"It is very difficult to get people involved. 80 or 90 percent of people might agree with your aims but that is very different from people actually doing it," says Dan Thompson, one of the founders of Your Party. - Online Sources

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