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Influences on the Number and Gender of Candidates in Canadian Local Elections

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 September 2018

Sandra Breux
Institut National de Recherche Scientifique, Centre Urbanisation Culture et Société, 385 rue Sherbrooke Est, Montréal QP, H2X 1E3
Jérôme Couture
Université Laval and INRS-UCS, 385 rue Sherbrooke Est, Montréal PQ, H2X 1E3
Royce Koop*
Department of Political Studies, University of Manitoba, 532 Fletcher Argue, Winnipeg MB, R3T 2N2
*Corresponding author. Email:


We explore influences on the number of candidates, and female candidates in particular, who contest mayoral elections in Canada. We draw on an original cross-national data set of election results from mayoral elections in Canada's 100 largest cities between 2006 and 2017. An average of 4.96 candidates contested mayoral elections in this period, and 16 per cent of all candidates were women. Density and mayoral prestige were related to higher numbers of candidates; in contrast, incumbent candidates and the availability of other elected positions were related to lower numbers. Notably, the presence of a female incumbent was related to higher numbers of women running for the position of mayor; in contrast, higher mayoral salaries were associated with an increase in the number of male but not female candidates. This analysis enhances our understanding of the factors underlying contested local elections, as well as the factors that appear to facilitate women contesting local elections.


L'objectif de cet article est d'explorer les facteurs susceptibles d'influencer le nombre de candidats, et plus précisément de candidates, qui se présentent aux élections municipales au Canada. À partir d'une base de données portant sur les élections à la mairie au sein des 100 plus grandes villes du Canada entre 2006 et 2017, nous montrons qu'en moyenne, au cours de cette période, 4,96 candidats se sont présentés aux élections municipales. De plus, parmi l'ensemble des candidats, 16 per cent d'entre eux étaient des femmes. Deux facteurs contribuent à expliquer en partie la présence d'un nombre plus élevé de candidats : la densité de la population d'une part et le prestige du poste d'autre part. Deux facteurs contribuent également à expliquer un nombre plus faible de candidats : la présence de candidat sortant et la présence d'autres postes électifs à pourvoir. Plus encore, selon le sexe des candidats, des distinctions apparaissent : les candidates sont plus susceptibles de se présenter si le candidat sortant est une femme. Les salaires contribuent également à augmenter le nombre de candidats, mais pas de candidates. Cette analyse permet donc d'affiner notre compréhension des joutes électorales à la mairie, ainsi que d'identifier certains facteurs qui semblent influencer la présence de candidates.

Research Article/Étude originale
Copyright © Canadian Political Science Association (l'Association canadienne de science politique) and/et la Société québécoise de science politique 2018 

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