In any representative democracy, "to run" is to stand as a candidate in an election for office, so that others may vote for you or others competing to become a representative of a region or officers of an organization. The verb implies going somewhere at a rapid pace as candidates often must do to address all of the shareholders or constituents who may vote. In some elections it is possible to gather proxy or delegate support in advance of the election itself. In these it is particularly important to gain endorsements of others, though this is always of great value.

how those who run are chosen

In multi-member electoral systems where entire party lists or preference vote or preference vote or approval vote methods are used, the voter may s/elect more than one candidate at a time. In a single-member system such as first past the post or Instant Runoff a single candidate is elected and all others are not.

A secret ballot is the typical means by which political privacy is preserved for the voters who approve or fail to approve or (in some systems like disapproval voting) explicitly disapprove of the candidate who runs. This has historically been important to prevent any retribution: if voters cannot state their choice without fear of coercion, then there is substantial risk that the candidates selected will not have actual support of the population, leading to various false majority problems. Avoiding such non-representative results is also the major motivation for electoral reform efforts.


Systems vary widely in terms of the requirements they levy on those who run: the candidates. In any public election there will be candidate protocols and traditions upheld by any slate, faction or political party that formally endorses the candidate's run. See political party governance.

Scrutiny on these organization protocols is an important indicator of good governance in both corporate and public trust situations.

in Canada...

In a Canadian federal election, Elections Canada sets the standards such candidates meet, the definitions of a federal electoral district, and who is an eligible voter or eligible candidate, typically a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant over 18.


Social pressures and support on people to run or not run can be extreme, as fitting the degree of srutiny on public decisions. In some systems such as first past the post there is also the potential to split votes of candidates who share many of one's positions, resulting in the election of someone who pursues a very different and incompatible ideology. For instance, the Green Party of the United States was often accused of helping George W. Bush win office, while the Green Party of Canada and New Democratic Party of Canada and various smaller parties have often been accused of helping Stephen Harper.

what you can do at openpolitics.ca itself

find instructions to run in a Canadian federal election for a party


E-register as a Peoples Parliament candidate MP

how to run in other elections

  • add list of such elections and how to do it
  • assume independent!

learn candidate skills