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Paper candidate: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In a representative democracy, the term paper candidate is often given to a candidate who stands for a political party in an electoral division where the party in question enjoys little or no support. Although the candidate has little chance of winning, a major party will normally make every reasonable effort to ensure it is on the ballot paper in every constituency.

The term paper candidate literally means that the candidacy only exists as a name printed on the ballot paper, although the term is sometimes applied more widely, for instance to candidates who are party workers from another area or the central office, especially if they have few connections to the constituency and spends little or no time there.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, major parties often find it difficult to field a full slate of candidates for all council seats up for election, especial in the case of councils with "all-up" elections - for example, the largest council is Birmingham City Council for which elections for all 120 seats are held on the same day. Parties find it desirable to persuade people to stand as paper candidates so that:

- Supporters have an opportunity to vote for the party,

- The total vote obtained across the council and the nation is maximised,

- All seats are contested so there is no risk that candidates from other parties can be declared elected unopposed.

In the UK, being nominated as a local election candidate simply involves signing some forms, with no deposit required. A paper candidate will often do no campaigning at all and so be able to submit a zero return of election expenses, simplifying the paperwork for the election agent.

Some paper candidates stand in order to help their party but do not wish to be elected to the post in question. In fact, some paper candidates only agree to stand after receiving assurances that there is no "risk" of them getting elected.

However, in the case of an unexpected large swing to or from a particular party, there have been cases of paper candidates getting elected. For instance, in the so-called "poll tax election" of 1990, the Conservative government suffered heavily in the local elections due to the unpopularity of the poll tax. Many of the 163 net losses suffered by the Conservatives were seats that fell to paper candidates from the opposition Labour or Liberal Democrat parties.


An alternate scenario would be where the party is not seriously contesting the election but must run candidates so it can either get registered or stay registered for some other purpose. An example of this scenario in action is found in Saskatchewan, where the "dormant" Progressive Conservatives continued to run at least 10 candidates in the province's general elections until the relevant law was amended, to keep its registration with the Chief Electoral Officer (and to avoid losing control of what is believed to be a substantial amount of money).

An extreme version of a paper candidate, is a "Name on Ballot" or NoB (pronounced knob). Many NoB's will only put up campaign signs, and some do not even do that. In most provinces, the only requirement is that the candidate show up at the returning officer's headquarters for a few moments to take an oath and pay the required nomination deposit. In many smaller parties, such as the Island New Democrats, a majority of the party's candidates in any given election are NoB's. The term is often worn as a badge of pride in one's loyalty to the party. Island New Democrat, Dr. Bob Perry, who has been a NoB many times in the past, often calls himself "Dr. NoB" at election time. In Alberta candidates don't even need to show up to talk to a returning officer, as long as someone on behalf of the party drops off the requisite paperwork and funds.



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