There is growing attention to the descriptive representation of racialized minorities in politics. However, because of a systematic lack of data on nomination contestants’ racial backgrounds, most research looks at outcomes on election day, thus ignoring the crucial stages that help to shape minority candidate emergence.

Using a unique data set on nomination contestants and local party presidents in a recent Canadian election, this study demonstrates that while district diversity is one determinant of minority candidate emergence, the presence of a racialized local party president is also substantively important. In other words, if you’re a prospective candidate, who you know matters. The findings show that racialized party gatekeepers play a key role in the emergence of minority candidates, and these networks matter most in the districts with lower levels of racial diversity. The findings further suggest the general pattern of left-center parties facilitating minority candidate emergence may not apply in the Canadian context.

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Tolley, Erin. 2019. Who You Know: Local Party Presidents and Minority Candidate Emergence. Electoral Studies 58: 70-79.