Perennial candidate

A perennial candidate is a political candidate who frequently runs for an elected office and rarely, if ever, wins. The term is the opposite of an incumbent politician who repeatedly defends their seats successfully.

Perennial candidates can vary widely in nature. Some are independents who lack the support of the major political parties in an area or are members of alternative parties (such as third parties in the United States). Others may be mainstream candidates who can consistently win a party's nomination, but because their district is gerrymandered or a natural safe seat for another party, the candidate likewise never gets elected (thus these types are often paper candidates). Still, others may typically run in primary elections for a party's nomination and lose repeatedly. Numerous perennial candidates, although not all, run with the full knowledge of their inability to win elections and instead use their candidacy for satire, to advance non-mainstream political platforms, or to take advantage of benefits afforded political candidates (such as campaign financing, name recognition, and television advertising benefits).




Due to the complex and intricate political system in Brazil concerning political parties, there are more than 30 political parties. In this scenario, it is very useful to have hopeless candidates who can make a good number of votes and increase the overall votes count of a party (or coalition). As a consequence, there are thousands of small perennial candidates for local elections around the country, whose sole purpose is helping others get elected, then ask for a job in the elected government cabinet.

  • Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ran for President of Brazil in 1989, 1994 and 1998, ranking second on each occasion. He ultimately won by landslide in 2002, and was re-elected in 2006.
  • José Maria Eymael, a fringe political figure, ran for the Presidency five times (1998, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018); he failed to reach 1% of the votes in any of those. He also unsuccessfully ran for mayor of São Paulo in 1985 and 1992, though he won two terms on the lower house of the National Congress of Brazil, from 1987 to 1995.
  • Rui Costa Pimenta, leader and founder of the Trotskyist Workers' Cause Party, ran for the Presidency in 2002, 2010 and 2014 (his candidacy in 2006 was blocked by the Superior Electoral Court). He was last in all his runs, with his best performance being 0.04% of the votes in 2002.
  • Vera Guasso, labor union leader and member of the Unified Socialist Workers Party (PSTU), ran for the Porto Alegre city assembly, mayor of Porto Alegre, the Brazilian Senate and other positions in a non-stop serial candidacy (every two years) from the early 90s on. In her best results, she had numbers of votes in local Porto Alegre elections similar to those of lesser-voted elected candidates but did not get a seat due to her party's overall voting being small. PSTU traditionally enters elections with no visible chance to, allegedly, "put a leftist set of points in discussion" and "build the party" but has lately achieved some expressive numbers.[citation needed]
  • Enéas Carneiro, a cardiologist and founder of the far-right Party of the Reconstruction of the National Order (PRONA), ran for presidency 3 times, in 1989, 1994 and 1998. He was mostly known for his comical style of speech on political broadcasts (due in part to the reduced TV time his party had) and his distinct beard. He also ran for mayor in São Paulo at the 2000 elections before finally being elected federal deputy in 2002 with record voting. He was reelected in 2006 but died in 2007 from a myeloid leukemia.



  • Horacio Serpa Uribe, three-times Liberal Party´s presidential candidate (1998, 2002, 2006).
  • Antanas Mockus, two-times presidential candidate (2006, 2010), one-time vicepresidential candidate (1998).
  • Noemí Sanín, three-times Conservative Party´s presidential candidate (1998, 2002, 2010).
  • Álvaro Gómez Hurtado, three times Conservative Party´s presidential candidate (1974, 1986, 1990).
  • Enrique Peñalosa, five-times Bogotá´s mayor candidate (1994, 1997, 2007, 2011, 2015), one time senatorial candidate (2006), one time presidential candidate (2014).

Costa RicaEdit


  • Nicolás Zúñiga y Miranda was a presidential candidate 10 times: 1892, 1896, 1900, 1904, 1910, 1911, 1913, 1917, 1920 and 1924 and also tried to run for a seat in the Congress of Mexico at least twice. The eccentric Zúñiga never got more than a few votes, but always claimed to have been the victim of fraud and considered himself to be the legitimate President.
  • Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas was a presidential candidate three times: 1988, 1994 and 2000, also was elected the first Head of Government of Mexico City in 1997, was the leader of PRD, the left-wing mayor party and was Governor of the state of Michoacan.

United StatesEdit






  • Raila Odinga leader of Orange Democratic Movement has been in the ballot five times—1997, 2007, 2013 and 2017 (both times) Kenya's presidential elections. Prior to that and under the old Kenyan Constitution, Raila was a Member of Parliament for the Lang'ata Constituency which includes Kenya's most impoverished and largest slum. Raila who is referred to as 'Baba' by his followers mostly from his Luo community has never conceded defeat and always claims that the elections were rigged in favor of the winning candidates. Such Claims after the 2007 Kenya Elections led to the 2007–08 Kenyan crisis witnessed in Kenya in early 2008 that leftover 1,300[4] people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.






Asia and OceaniaEdit



Hong KongEdit







  • Satoshi Akao ran in numerous elections for his Great Japan Patriotic Party until 1989, one year prior to his death.
  • Mac Akasaka, real name Makoto Tonami, was a candidate for many political offices, especially the governor of Tokyo 2012,[13] 2016[14] and mayor of Osaka in 2014.[15]
  • Yūtokutaishi Akiyama, an engraver artist, photographer, was a candidate for Governor of Tokyo 1975 and 1979, bringing pop art into the process.
  • Teruki Gotō was a candidate for Mayor of Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo (2013),[16] City Assembly of Chiyoda (2015),[17] and the Governor of Tokyo (2016).[14]
  • Hideyoshi Seizo Hashiba ran in numerous elections from 1976 to 2011.
  • Mitsuo Matayoshi (alias Jesus Matayoshi), leader of the World Economic Community Party and self-proclaimed Messiah, has run in at least nine local and national elections since 1997.
  • Yoshiro Nakamatsu (alias Dr. NakaMats), inventor and perennial candidate in Tokyo, has unsuccessfully campaigned to be elected Governor of Tokyo numerous times since 1995, most recently in 2014.[18]





Czech RepublicEdit

  • Jana Bobošíková is known for a series of unsuccessful candidatures in various elections. She unsuccessfully ran two times for President of the Czech Republic (2008 and 2013), the Chamber of Deputies (2010 and 2013), the Senate (2010 and 2012), Mayor of Prague (2010) and general manager of Czech Television (2009).
  • Petr Hannig is the leader of Party of Common Sense. Since 2002, he has repeatedly run for the Chamber of Deputies and Senate.[19][20] He also ran for Czech presidency in 2018 election.,[21] but failed as well, ending last but one with 0,57% of votes.
  • Miroslav Sládek ran for the Czechoslovak presidency in 1992. After dissolution of Czechoslovakia he sought the Czech presidency in 1993, 1998 and 2018.[22] He withdrawn from 2018 election due to failure of his party in the 2017 legislative election.[23]
  • Jan Švejnar unsuccessfully ran for the Czech presidency in 2008. He also ran for the position in 2013 but withdrew. He planned to run for the office in 2018 but he didn't receive political support. Some politicians noted that Švejnar lives in the United States and "shows up in the Czech Republic only when there is a presidential election."[24]



Palmer's house in Geradstetten boasted some of his election percentages
  • Helmut Palmer (1930–2004) stood without any success for about 250 elections as mayor in villages and cities in southwestern Germany and various times as independent candidate for the Bundestag.[25] His son Boris Palmer became mayor of Tübingen.


  • Ástþór Magnússon is an Icelandic businessman and politician who unsuccessfully campaigned for the post of President of Iceland five times; in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2012 and 2016.



  • Marco Pannella is described by many as a perennial candidate, even though he was actually elected multiple times as a member of the Italian Parliament, the European Parliament, and the municipal councils of a handful of cities.


  • Janusz Korwin-Mikke unsuccessfully ran for President five times (1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015). He also unsuccessfully ran for Polish parliament nine times (1993, 1997, 2001, 2004 (two times, by-elections for Senate), 2005, 2007, 2013 and 2015), for European Parliament (2004, 2019), four times for regional assemblies (2002, 2006, 2007, 2010) and three times for President of Warsaw (2006, 2010, 2018). However, in 2014 he was elected for member of European Parliament and, in 2019, after 26-years-lasting break, for member of Sejm, starting from Confederation Liberty and Independence list.
  • Kornel Morawiecki unsuccessfully ran for President three times in 1990, 2010 and 2015, achieving necessary 100,000 signatures to be registered as candidate only in 2010. He also unsuccessfully ran for Sejm in 1991, and for Senate in 2007. Eventually, he succeeded for the first time when he became an MP in 2015.


  • Corneliu Vadim Tudor, former president and founder of PRM, unsuccessfully ran for President five times in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2009 and 2014. His biggest score was in 2000 when he gained 33.2% in the second round against Ion Iliescu.


United KingdomEdit


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