How can I stand in an election?

Standing for Parliament

If you are considering standing as a candidate in a UK general election, you can read this quick guide to get a snapshot of what is involved.

Full guidance for candidates is provided by the Electoral Commission, the independent body that regulates party and election finance and sets standards for well-run elections.

Standing as a candidate

Find out if you are eligible to stand

In UK Parliamentary elections all candidates must be 18 years old or over and either:

  • a British citizen
  • a citizen of the Republic of Ireland
  • a citizen of a commonwealth country who does not require leave to enter or remain in the UK, or has indefinite leave to remain in the UK

Certain groups of people are not allowed to stand, these include:

  • members of the police forces
  • members of the armed forces
  • civil servants, judges and peers who sit and can vote in the House of Lords
  • people who are subject to a bankruptcy restrictions order or a debt relief restrictions order in England, Wales or Northern Ireland
  • people who have been adjudged bankrupt in Northern Ireland
  • people who have had their estate confiscated (sequestrated) in Scotland

See Electoral Commission guidance for more information:

Become a validly nominated candidate

You will need to become a validly nominated candidate, which means your name will appear on a ballot paper. To do this you need to submit a completed set of nomination forms along with a deposit of £500 to the (Acting) Returning Officer before 4pm on the deadline day for nominations.

All candidates need to appoint an election agent, who is the person responsible for the management of your election campaign and its financial management. If you do not appoint an agent, you will become your own agent by default.

See Electoral Commission guidance for more information:

Rules on candidate spending and donations

There are rules on spending and donations that candidates and agents must follow. Candidates need to be fully aware of these rules and ensure that their agent is following them.

See Electoral Commission guidance for more information:

Planning and running a campaign

You will probably want to plan and run a campaign to let voters in your area know what you stand for. Validly nominated candidates are entitled to free postage for one election communication to voters in their constituency.

See Electoral Commission guidance for more information:

Attending key electoral processes

As a validly nominated candidate you are entitled to attend the opening of returned postal votes and the count.

See Electoral Commission guidance for more information:

After the results have been announced

If you are successful, your win will be publicly announced and you will be given information on how to attend Parliament. Successful candidates must swear an oath or make an affirmation in Parliament before they can take their seat as an MP.

See Electoral Commission guidance for more information:

Further information

The Electoral Commission website has detailed guidance available for Candidates and Agents.

Image: iStock

Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission is an independent body, accountable directly to the UK Parliament, that regulates elections in the UK, promotes voter awareness and works to build confidence in the electoral process.

Parliament is not responsible for the content of external websites.

Constituencies

The UK is currently divided into 650 areas called parliamentary constituencies, each of which is represented by one MP in the House of Commons.

Websites of the political parties

Below are links to the websites of the political parties that are represented in the House of Commons:

Parliament is not responsible for the content of external websites.

Living Heritage

Before 1918 no women were allowed to vote in parliamentary elections. Discover how the right to vote was extended to different sectors of society over the years.