3,971 candidates stood for election on May 7, including 1,033 women, a record number. Across the UK there were 6.1 candidates on average per constituency. Approximately 130 parties contested for seats. 584 former MPs sought re-election, including 24 previous MPs who had not been in the 2010-15 Parliament.

All data used in this article is available for download here: Candidates 2015 – data

3,971 candidates, the second highest total on record

3,971 candidates stood in May 2015, a 4.3% fall on 2010’s record of 4,150 candidates.

The Conservatives fielded 647 candidates, the highest of any party in this election. This total includes candidates in all of Great Britain’s 632 seats except Buckingham, where the current Speaker stood unopposed by three of the main parties, together with candidates in 16 of Northern Ireland’s 18 seats.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats fielded 631 candidates across Great Britain only.

UKIP had 624 candidates, a 12% rise on 2010. The Green Party (England and Wales), Scottish Greens and Green Party of Northern Ireland had a combined UK total of 573 candidate, a 71% rise on 2010.

The Scottish National Party had candidates in all of Scotland’s 59 constituencies. Plaid Cymru candidates stood in all of Wales’ 40 constituencies.

Number of candidates at UK General Elections 1945 – 2015Total candidates 2

There were around two and a half times the number of general election candidates standing in May 2015 as there were in July 1945. This was due largely to the rise of “other” parties. In 1945, 9% of candidates stood for parties other than the Labour, Conservative and then Liberal Parties. In 2015, 52% of candidates stood for parties other than the traditional “three main” parties. This is the second time the percentage of “other” candidates has exceeded 50%, the first being in 2010.

1,033 women candidates, the highest on record

1,033 women are standing for election, 26% of total candidates. This is both the highest number and percentage on record for a UK general election.

Percentage of women candidates at UK election 1945 – 2015Percentage women

Labour had 214 women candidates, the highest number of any party at this or any other general election. Women were 34% of Labour’s candidates, compared to 30% in 2010.

169 Conservative candidates, 26% of the party’s total cohort, were women – a 10% rise on 2010 and the highest number in the party’s history. Similarly, 166 (26%) Liberal Democrats candidates were women.

38% of Green Party candidates were women, as were 38% of Scottish National Party candidates and 25% of Plaid Cymru candidates. Women comprised 13% of UKIP candidates.

Number of women candidates at UK elections 1945 – 2015Women candidates

An average of 7.7 candidates per seat in Northern Ireland, 4.7 in the East Midlands

Across the UK, an average of 6.1 candidates stood per seat. By region, Northern Ireland had the most candidates per seat (7.7) and the East Midlands the least (4.7).

Uxbridge and South Ruislip had 13 candidates, the most of any constituency, followed by Witney (12).

There were approximately 130 parties contesting for seats this May – excluding The Speaker and independents, counting “Labour” and “Labour and Cooperative” as a single party and counting the Green Parties of England & Wales, of Scotland and of Northern Ireland as three separate entities.

Northern Ireland has the fewest parties of any region or country, 12, and London the most, 46.

Average number of candidates per seat by region and country, May 2015Per region

90 MPs standing down

An average of 92 MPs stood down from the House at General Elections in the period 1979 to 2010. The 2010-15 Parliament was little different: 90 MPs announced they were leaving the House following dissolution on the 30 March, including 38 Conservatives, 40 Labour, 10 Liberal Democrats and one from each of Plaid Cymru and Sinn Féin.

Number of MPs leaving the House at General Elections 1979 – 2015Leaving

The number of MPs leaving the House due to defeat has been greater than the number retiring on two occasions between 1979 and 2010. In 1979 65 incumbents were defeated and 61 stood down; in 1997 132 incumbents were defeated and 117 stood down.

584 former MPs seeking re-election

584 former MPs were seeking re-election in May. This total included 560 MPs who were sitting at the time of dissolution. 24 previous but not sitting MPs stood for re-election (Boris Johnson and Alex Salmond, for example).

Richard Keen

All data used in this article is available for download here: Candidates 2015 – data