Record number of candidates standing at election

Record number of candidates standing at general election

8 minutes ago

By Sam Francis, @DavidSamFrancisPolitical Reporter

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A record number of candidates are standing in this year’s general election.

More than 4,500 candidates are standing to be elected in the 650 constituencies across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

It means that the election, on 4 July, sees a 35.7% increase on the 2019 poll.

The increase primarily comes from Reform UK ending its promise not to stand against Conservatives, the Green Party standing more candidates and the Workers Party of Britain entering its first general election.

There has also been a large spike in the number of independent and smaller party candidates standing.

Matthew Flinders, professor of politics at Sheffield University, said an increase in candidates means this election means the next government will see “more marginals” and “more fluidity between elections”.

Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, said: “Virtually every European country, including the UK, has seen a fragmentation of their party systems.

“Voters nowadays have far fewer tribal loyalties than used to be the case, and in many cases feel the ‘old’ parties have failed either to deliver or have left them behind.”

As voters have proved happier to switch parties there has been an increase “in the number of parties competing”, he added.

“And with more parties, inevitably, come more candidates,” Prof Bale said.

This year’s 4,515 candidates surpass the previous record of 4,150 candidates in the 1997 election.

Reform UK, formerly the Brexit Party, has seen the largest rise in candidates, fielding 609 candidates in 2024 – a jump of 332 from the last election.

In 2019, party leader Nigel Farage opted not to run candidates in over 300 seats as a tactical decision to help Boris Johnson’s Conservatives secure Brexit. Mr Farage has ruled out a similar pact with the Tories at this election.

The Green Party has also put forward 131 more candidates than last election, with 629 candidates – after ending their own “Unite to Remain alliance” with the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru, three parties that supported the UK remaining in the European Union (EU).

The Workers Party of Britain, led by George Galloway, has also entered the election for the first time with 152 candidates.

Prof Flinders said the next election could see even more candidates.

“I think the genie is out of the bottle when it comes to British politics,” he said.

“The capacity of the two main parties to act as broad ‘catch all’ parties seems to have been overstretched – they are in danger of snapping.

“So new insurgent parties and more independent parties are entering the fray.”

General election 2024

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