Nominations closed yesterday for the general election. The full list of candidates will take a little while to become publicly known, but it’s safe to say a record number of people will be standing.
Here’s how the total number of candidates at general elections has changed over the past 50 years:
What sort of number can we expect this time?
The three major parties have said they expect to field candidates in all 632 seats in Great Britain, and the Tories are also standing in 16 of the 18 seats in Northern Ireland.
Ukip has said it hopes to stand in at least 620 seats, which is up from the 558 they contested in 2010. The Greens are aiming to fight 90-95% of the seats in England and Wales while the Scottish Greens are standing in 31 of the 59 constituencies in Scotland.
This all comes to a figure of around 3,100. Add in the Northern Ireland parties, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, Respect, the English Democrats, the BNP and hundreds of others, you’re looking at a figure that ought to easily exceed the 4,133 who stood in the 2010 general election.
Of that number, 3,272 were men and 861 (21%) were women. It’ll be interesting to see if that split has tilted in a more even direction this year.
The average number of candidates per constituency in 2010 was 6.3, compared to 5.5 in 2005. Again, it’ll be worth noting if that particular figure has grown this time.
Four of the smaller parties fielded more than 100 candidates in 2010: Ukip (558, up from 496 in 2005), the BNP (338, up from 119), the Greens (335, up from 183) and the English Democrats (104).
I suspect this group will have dropped to three this year, as I doubt the BNP will muster anywhere near the same numbers as last time.
One last note about the graph above. The number of candidates hasn’t always risen over time. It’s fallen back twice in the past 50 years: once in 1987 and again in 2001. Even if the number this year tops 5,000, I wonder if we aren’t coming to the end of another cycle of growth, and that the number at the next general election but one could show a slight dip.