mySociety endorses YourNextMP – let’s pull together to make a free, trustworthy, open database of General Election candidates

Parliament Square by Duncan HarrisLet’s Not Reinvent the Wheel When We Can All Use the Same Wheel

Every general election there are a load of projects that all need the same thing – a nicely formatted, accurate list of the candidates who are standing at the election.

Loads of people need this data – journalists, app builders, campaigners, Wikipedians, everyone.

But the government doesn’t actually publish the lists until right before the election, and when it does the data isn’t the least bit suitable for modern use (think unstructured PDFs and worse). It’s way too little and way too late.

That’s why we’re big fans of the new, a collaborative project headed up by our friends at Democracy Club, and endorsed by various other organisations, including mySociety. is a totally free, open database of candidates, that is made partly from screen scraping and partly from volunteer contributions from people who think that having a single good quality list is a sane idea. It publishes the open data gathered both through a nice clean website, and through a nice modern API. Soon it’ll also provide csv export,too. And it means we can have nice shared identifiers for candidates, meaning greater potential connectivity between election-related journalism, tools, sites and projects run by different people and organisations.

The builders  of YourNextMP have also taken steps to ensure accuracy and deter abuse, most strikingly by forcing all new data to be sourced, and keeping nice public logs of all the changes (and who made them).

To be clear, YourNextMP is not a mySociety project. We are just very happy to endorse the idea, and to supply one of our open source tools (PopIt) to help store and share the data in useful ways. Plus some of us have been chipping in in our spare time, for instance by adding data.

How can you help?

There are two main ways:

1) Add data!  The main thing needed today, 146 days before the election, is the most basic data on who is known to be standing, today.  We think that YourNextMP is probably already the most up to date candidate list out there, despite being very much unfinished.

Additional data, about candidates’ Facebook pages, birth dates and so on, isn’t such a high priority right now. You can help by looking up your constituency on the site, or choosing a random constituency, and just using your best Googling/telephoning skills to find out who’s definitely standing this time.

If you want to chat to other people who are doing the same thing, use the #yournextmp hashtag.

We’ve put together a few tips on canny ways to find information on prospective candidates, here.

Don’t feel you have to stop when you’ve filled in your own constituency – there are plenty more to complete.

2) Spread the word that a single, high quality, free and shared database of candidates is just A Good Thing that people should support.

Who loves time-wasting? Nobody! What is YourNextMP if not an anti time-wasting project? Nothing! So, please, if you’re planning an election-related project, tell people that YourNextMP is a good idea, and consider letting them use your logo on their site, as a sign of good will.

And if you see someone in your office about to pay for a proprietary database of candidates, why not suggest they give the money to YourNextMP instead?

Image: Duncan Harris (CC)


  1. Would appreciate information about Strategic voting. This a strong Conservative area but I do not trust the new Cons.candidate elected for this area, due to retirement of member elected for many years.Would wish to vote for UKIP but doubt enough support. Lost faith in D.Cameron.
    Don’t understand tags below.

    • dear Aileen Ireland look beyond Mr Cameron and look at the conservative policies no one can tell you how to vote but think through wether ukip could form a government and put in place all aspects which this country needs.Where I live they would vote for a garden gnome as long as it was red. So take the time to listen to the depth behind the headline bites. good luck

  2. Does anyone know if this can/will this be expanded to include results? After the European elections I collected the results into a google docs spreadsheet. 600+ constituencies is a taller order than 12 regions though! I thought at the time that a crowd-sourced results service would be the way to go, but then forgot about it. Does anyone know if the BBC compile their own database (that we might convince them to open) to power their website, or do the media all use a third-party compiler?