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British Elections Will Focus on Single Issues

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of allowing British campaign groups to spend unrestricted sums on leafleting and broadcasting before an election. Unlimited spending on propaganda will enable groups to support a specific candidate or deprecate a rival for their views on issues such as abortion and gay and lesbian rights.

Previously, the Representation of the Peoples Act passed in 1983 ordered a 5- pound (8 US dollars) limit on unauthorized campaign spending. Anti-abortion activist Phyllis Bowman brought the case to court after being prosecuted for spending 10,000 pounds (16,000 US dollars) while distributing 25,000 leaflets that condemned a local candidate for pro-choice views.

Amanda Callaghan, a member of the pro-choice Birth Control Trust, is not worried about the ruling. Callaghan said, “We have never shied away from a free and frank exchange of views on this subject.”

Sources:

The Independent - February 20, 1998