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Women and LGBTQ2S+ candidates positioned to be sacrificial lambs in elections – study

Women and LGBTQ2S+ candidates are particularly overrepresented in hard-to-win districts.

A study from researchers at the University of Ottawa’s School of Political Studies paints a stark picture for minority candidates’ success in elections, with political parties said to be guilty of positioning their minority candidates to fail. 

This study – “Still sacrificial lambs? Yes! Minority groups in Canadian federal elections, 2015–2021” by Valérie Lapointe, Benjamin Ferland, and Luc Turgeon – appeared in Electoral Studies.

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The study considered how partisanship, incumbency, and intersectionality impact the likelihood of minority candidates to be nominated in (non-) winnable electoral districts. After an analysis of candidates who ran in the past three elections in Canada was done, it was revealed that:

  • Women and LGBTQ2S+ candidates are particularly overrepresented in hard-to-win districts.
  • Minority candidates of dominant political parties are more likely to be nominated in districts where their party lost previously.
  • Incumbent minority candidates are less likely to be re-elected than non-minority candidates, indicating they previously won in more difficult districts to secure.

“Despite attempts to improve the representation of minority in… political institutions, there are still significant barriers to their representation. The more minority groups a candidate belongs to, the more they are likely to be sacrificial lambs,” said Turgeon, co-author of the study.

Turgeon stressed that the obstacles faced by minority candidates “do not come from voters, but from political parties that tend to nominate minority candidates in hard to win ridings. Such obstacles are a significant reason why certain minority groups remain significantly under-represented.”


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