Standing for Parliament: Do Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic Candidates Pay Extra?

Mary Stegmaier, Michael S. Lewis-Beck, Kaat Smets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Western democracies, with their increasingly diverse racial and ethnic popula- tions, are seeing more political candidates who are non-white. How do these non-white candidates fare at the ballot box? Does their non-white status mean they gain or lose votes? Do their challengers gain or lose votes? In recent work on the US case, it appears that candidate Obama lost votes in 2008 because of his non-white status. The research question we address here is whether, in the context of the 2010 UK parliamentary elections, the race or ethnicity of the can- didates played a role in the vote totals. What we find is that, while in some ways race does not matter, in other ways it does. In particular, it appears that the local incumbent party in a constituency typically gained at least two percentage points in vote share (of the major-three-party vote), when they had a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) challenger. Of course, this does not mean that BAME can- didates cannot win. It has been amply demonstrated that they can win. But what it does mean is that, other things being equal, the local party (which won the seat last time) is likely to benefit from their presence in the contest.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-285
JournalParliamentary Affairs
Issue number2
Early online date23 Dec 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Vote choice
  • Race candidate

Cite this