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United Kingdom general elections: Wikis


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This is a list of United Kingdom general elections since the first in 1802. The members of the 1801-1802 Parliament had been elected to the former Parliament of Great Britain and Parliament of Ireland, before being co-opted to serve in the first Parliament of the United Kingdom, so that Parliament is not included in the table below. For by-election results see List of UK by-elections. For information on UK elections in general, see Elections in the United Kingdom.

A general election to elect the next House of Commons must be held by no later than Thursday 3 June 2010 (See the Electoral Commission website.) There have been some indications, which are backed by the popularity of setting the first week of May in recent elections, that May 6, 2010 is the most likely date on which British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will set the next UK General Election (by convention all General Elections in the UK are held on a Thursday, similar to the Tuesday rule in the United States and the Sunday rule in many Continental European nations).

Election results

A graph showing the percentage of the popular vote received by major parties in general elections, 1832-2005.

In 1801, at the time of the establishment of the United Kingdom, the right to vote was a severely restricted practice. Universal suffrage, on an equal basis for men and women over the age of 21, was established in 1929. Before 1918, general elections did not occur on a single day and polling was spread over several weeks. The date given in the table for elections prior to 1918 is the date Parliament assembled after the election, which could be in the year after the general election.

The majority figure given is for the difference between the number of MPs elected at the general election from the party (or parties) of the government, as opposed to all other parties (some of which may have been giving some support to the government, but were not participating in a coalition). The Speaker is excluded from the calculation. If the party in office changed the figure is re-calculated, but no allowance is made for changes after the general election. No attempt is made to define a majority before 1832, when the Reform Act disenfranchised the rotten boroughs; before then the Tory party had an undemocratically entrenched dominance. Particularly in the early part of the period the complexity of factional alignments, with both the Whig and Tory traditions tending to have some members in government and others in opposition factions simultaneously, make it impossible to produce an accurate majority figure. The figures between 1832 and about 1859 are approximate due to problems of defining what was a party in government, as the source provides figures for all Liberals rather than just the Whig component in what developed into the Liberal Party. The Whig and Peelite Prime Ministers in the table below are regarded as having the support of all Liberals.

  • Source for majority calculations: British Electoral Facts 1832-1999, compiled and edited by Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher (Ashgate 2000)
Election Date Prime Minister(s) Party Majority Notes
1802 (MPs) 22 July 1802 Henry Addington
William Pitt the Younger
The Lord Grenville
Tory (Pittite who called himself a Whig)
1806 (MPs) 17 November 1806 The Lord Grenville
The Duke of Portland
Tory (Pittite who called himself a Whig)
1807 (MPs) 22 June 1807 The Duke of Portland
Spencer Perceval
The Earl of Liverpool
Tory (Pittite who called himself a Whig)
1812 (MPs) 24 November 1812 The Earl of Liverpool Tory ...
1818 (MPs) 4 August 1818 The Earl of Liverpool Tory ...
1820 (MPs) 16 January 1821 The Earl of Liverpool Tory ...
1826 (MPs) 19 June 1826 The Earl of Liverpool
George Canning
The Viscount Goderich
The Duke of Wellington
1830 (MPs) 9 August 1830 The Duke of Wellington
The Earl Grey
1831 (MPs) 25 July 1831 The Earl Grey Whig 136
At this point, the Reform Act 1832 gave suffrage to propertied
male adults and disenfranchised almost all of the rotten boroughs.
1832 (MPs) 29 January 1833 The Earl Grey
The Viscount Melbourne
The Duke of Wellington
Sir Robert Peel
225 (L)
-308 (C)
1835 (MPs) 19 February 1835 Sir Robert Peel
The Viscount Melbourne
-113 (C)
113 (L)
1837 (MPs) 15 November 1837 The Viscount Melbourne Whig 29
1841 (MPs) 19 August 1841 Sir Robert Peel Conservative 77
1847 (MPs) 9 August 1847 Lord John Russell Whig −72
1852 (MPs) 4 November 1852 The Earl of Derby
The Earl of Aberdeen
1857 (MPs) 30 April 1857 The Viscount Palmerston Liberal 100
1859 (MPs) 31 May 1859 The Viscount Palmerston Liberal 59
1865 (MPs) 1 February 1866 The Earl Russell
The Earl of Derby
Benjamin Disraeli
At this point, the Reform Act 1867 significantly widened the suffrage
and disenfranchised more smaller boroughs.
1868 (MPs) 10 December 1868 William Ewart Gladstone Liberal 115
1874 (MPs) 5 March 1874 Benjamin Disraeli Conservative 49
1880 (MPs) 29 April 1880 William Ewart Gladstone Liberal 51
At this point, the Representation of the People Act 1884 extended the
borough franchise of 1867 to the counties, increasing the electorate
to about 5,500,000 men.
1885 (MPs) 12 January 1886 The Marquess of Salisbury
William Ewart Gladstone
1886 (MPs) 5 August 1886 The Marquess of Salisbury Conservative 116
1892 (MPs) 4 August 1892 William Ewart Gladstone
The Earl of Rosebery
Liberal −126
1895 (MPs) 12 August 1895 The Marquess of Salisbury Conservative 153
1900 (MPs) 3 December 1900 The Marquess of Salisbury
Arthur Balfour
Conservative 135 The "khaki" election.
1906 (MPs) 13 February 1906 Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
Herbert Henry Asquith
Liberal 129
January 1910 (MPs) 15 February 1910 Herbert Henry Asquith Liberal −122
December 1910 (MPs) 31 January 1911 Herbert Henry Asquith
David Lloyd George
Liberal −126
At this point, the Representation of the People Act 1918 gave suffrage
to most of the adult population (men over 21, women over 30).
1918 (MPs) 14 December 1918 David Lloyd George Liberal (Coalition Government) 238 The "coupon" election
1922 (MPs) 15 November 1922 Andrew Bonar Law
Stanley Baldwin
Conservative 74
1923 (MPs) 6 December 1923 James Ramsay MacDonald Labour −98
1924 (MPs) 29 October 1924 Stanley Baldwin Conservative 210
At this point, the Representation of the People Act 1928 gave universal suffrage
to the adult population over 21.
1929 (MPs) 30 May 1929 James Ramsay MacDonald Labour −42 The "flapper" election
1931 (MPs) 27 October 1931 James Ramsay MacDonald National Labour (National Government) 492
1935 (MPs) 14 November 1935 Stanley Baldwin
Neville Chamberlain
Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Conservative (National Government)
Conservative (National Government)
Conservative (Wartime Coalition)
Conservative (National Government)
1945 (MPs) 5 July 1945 Clement Attlee Labour 146
At this point, the Representation of the People Act 1948 abolished plural voting, university constituencies and the few remaining two member constituencies.
1950 (MPs) 23 February 1950 Clement Attlee Labour 5
1951 (MPs) 25 October 1951 Sir Winston Churchill
Sir Anthony Eden
Conservative 17
1955 (MPs) 26 May 1955 Sir Anthony Eden
Harold Macmillan
Conservative 54
1959 (MPs) 8 October 1959 Harold Macmillan
Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Conservative 100
1964 (MPs) 15 October 1964 Harold Wilson Labour 4
1966 (MPs) 31 March 1966 Harold Wilson Labour 96
At this point, the Representation of the People Act 1969 gave suffrage
to the adult population over 18.
1970 (MPs) 18 June 1970 Edward Heath Conservative 31
February 1974 (MPs) 28 February 1974 Harold Wilson Labour −33
October 1974 (MPs) 10 October 1974 Harold Wilson
James Callaghan
Labour 3
1979 (MPs) 3 May 1979 Margaret Thatcher Conservative 43
1983 (MPs) 9 June 1983 Margaret Thatcher Conservative 144
1987 (MPs) 11 June 1987 Margaret Thatcher
John Major
Conservative 102
1992 (MPs) 9 April 1992 John Major Conservative 21
1997 (MPs) 1 May 1997 Tony Blair Labour 179
2001 (MPs) 7 June 2001 Tony Blair Labour 167
2005 (MPs) 5 May 2005 Tony Blair
Gordon Brown
Labour 66
2010 TBA

Note: A negative majority means that there was a hung parliament (or minority parliament) following that election. For example, in the 1929 election, Labour was 42 seats short of forming a majority, and so its majority is listed as −42.

See also



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