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Saturday, 17 February, 2001, 14:57 GMT
Candidate selection

The way in which the three main political parties choose their candidates for a general election varies.

The Conservatives work out a list of centrally approved candidates from which their local constituency membership can then choose.

Would-be Tory MPs apply to Conservative Central Office's candidate department in the hope they will be included on the approved list.

Applicant sift

At that stage a selection proceedure takes place involving a sift through the CVs of applicants.

Potential candidate's application form
Potential candidate's application form
Hopefuls who pass that stage are then invited to a candidates weekend where they undergo an aptitude test that is "relevant" to those wishing to enter public office.

Subject to further approval by staff from the candidates department and by some Conservative MPs they are then placed on the official candidates list.

Local Conservative Associations advertise to the people on the list if there is a vacancy for a candidate.

MPs reselected?

Sitting MPs are normally reselected automatically if they want to run again.

Where there is a vacancy the association will inform Central Office and approved candidates will be told that a constituency is looking to select.

Those wishing to apply for a seat will then send their CVs direct to the constituency.

The association's executive then goes through all the applications and the prospective candidates are then invited for interview.

The next stage involves the compilation of a shortlist of between three and five hopefuls.

Open to question

There follows a selection meeting which is open to every member of the local association in which all the candidates will speak and be subject to questioning.

After that all members are entitled to vote and the successful person is adopted as the prospective parliamentary candidate.

Members voting in favour of a prospective candidate
Members voting in favour of a prospective candidate
Once this has happened the local party will take a vote, and all members are allowed to vote on this issue. The one who get the majority of votes will be formally adopted as the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate.

Vetting

Up to 31 January 2001, Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) chose candidates from an approved list or a candidate once chosen would have to undergo the approval procedure.

Like the Tories, that involved vetting the would-be candidates.

Constituency wards and affiliates, such as trade unions, could nominate two candidates although the wards had to nominate both a man and a woman.

The general council of the constituency then made the shortlist which was circulated to the local membership who could vote via postal ballot or on a hustings meetings which resulted in the selection.

After January 31, because of the time taken in the full selection procedure, a quicker system came into force.

Centrally approved

That allowed a CLP that needed a candidate - often because an MP decided to retire at the last minute - to get one quickly by voting on a centrally approved Labour Party shortlist.

The shortlist is compiled by the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party.

Lib Dem wanted

The Liberal Democrats have a central approved list which hopefuls can apply to get on.

Where constituencies have a vacancy they can advertise in Liberal Democrat News and would-be candidates apply.

A selection committee chooses a shortlist which then goes before the constituency party membership.

Party members can also vote for their prospective candidate by post.

If a constituency has yet to select a candidate then the regional office of the party may get involved to negotiate to secure a suitable person to run.

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