.mw-parser-output .hidden-begin{box-sizing:border-box;width:100%;padding:5px;border:none;font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .hidden-title{font-weight:bold;line-height:1.6;text-align:left}.mw-parser-output .hidden-content{text-align:left}You can help expand this article with text translated from the corresponding article in German. (October 2021) Click [show] for important translation instructions. View a machine-translated version of the German article. Machine translation, like DeepL or Google Translate, is a useful starting point for translations, but translators must revise errors as necessary and confirm that the translation is accurate, rather than simply copy-pasting machine-translated text into the English Wikipedia. Consider adding a topic to this template: there are already 9,052 articles in the main category, and specifying|topic= will aid in categorization. Do not translate text that appears unreliable or low-quality. If possible, verify the text with references provided in the foreign-language article. You must provide copyright attribution in the edit summary accompanying your translation by providing an interlanguage link to the source of your translation. A model attribution edit summary is Content in this edit is translated from the existing German Wikipedia article at [[:de:Kandidat#Spitzenkandidat]]; see its history for attribution. You should also add the template ((Translated|de|Kandidat#Spitzenkandidat)) to the talk page. For more guidance, see Wikipedia:Translation.

In politics, a lead candidate (German: Spitzenkandidat; Dutch: lijsttrekker, lit.'list puller') is the leader of a political party in an election to a legislative body. In parliamentary systems, it is often the party's nominee for the position of head of government.[1] In open list electoral systems, it is the first candidate on a party's electoral list. The lead candidate can be, but is not necessarily, the party chair or political leader.[2]

Usage by country

See also: President of the European Commission § Spitzenkandidat

Voting ballot for the 2017 Dutch general election, with each party's lead candidate listed at the top


In the Netherlands, which uses a system of open-list proportional representation, the lead candidates (lijsttrekkers) in elections for the House of Representatives are almost always the parties' political leaders. When elected, the lead candidate usually becomes the party's parliamentary leader in the House of Representatives. When a coalition is formed, the lead candidates of the governing parties may be offered senior positions in the Cabinet, requiring them to vacate their seats in parliament. Traditionally, the lead candidate of the largest party in the governing coalition becomes Prime Minister.[3][4]

Lead candidates of the 2018 Dutch municipal election in Nissewaard

The term is also used in provincial, municipal, water board and island council elections, as well as in elections to the European Parliament and the Senate. In these elections, the lead candidates of national parties tend to be different from the party leaders. They are also not the parties' nominees for the positions of King's commissioner, mayor, dike-reeve or lieutenant governor.


In Belgium, elections to the Chamber of Representatives only feature provincial electoral lists since the 2012–2014 state reform. As a consequence, there are usually six lead candidates per party. In general, one of them is the party leader. Prior to the state reform, some of the party leaders ran as lijsttrekker on the Senate list.

See also


  1. ^ Pascual, Shelley (September 22, 2017). "10 German words you need to know to keep up with the election". The Local. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  2. ^ Kroet, Cynthia (April 19, 2017). "Frauke Petry won't be AfD's lead candidate in German election". Politico. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  3. ^ Cohen, Bernard Cecil (1995), Democracies and Foreign Policy: Public Participation in the United States and the Netherlands, University of Wisconsin Press, p. 21, ISBN 9780299146405
  4. ^ Fiers, Stefaan; Krouwel, André (2007), "The Low Countries: From 'Prime Minister' to President-Minister", The Presidentialization of Politics: A Comparative Study of Modern Democracies, Oxford University Press, p. 131[permanent dead link]