What does it take to be a successful candidate in Melanesia? Getting elected in the region has historically been challenging. Candidates face intense local competition and retaining office once elected can be difficult. For women, getting elected has proven particularly difficult. There is a widespread misconception that ‘women have equal chance to run for office and participate in decision-making but this is not accurate. There are numerous institutional, cultural, attitudinal and financial barriers’ which women candidates must necessarily overcome. Nevertheless, there is one common challenge all candidates face when running for office: presenting themselves as a credible candidate capable of delivering services to their local electorate once elected. Understanding what factors, if any, have been common to electoral success, and how successful candidates win, is an important first step if we are to provide support that empowers women. What do successful candidates — male and female — look like? Are there common factors that underpin successful election campaigns? Can these be replicated?