List of United Kingdom general elections

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This is a list of United Kingdom general elections (elections for the UK House of Commons) 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.

Election results[edit]

A graph showing shares of the vote received by each political party in the UK since 1832. The graph shows the UK being dominated by two political parties, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party, until around 1900, when the Labour Party rises and takes a large share of votes away from the Liberals. Miscellaneous parties and independents represent an insignificant amount of vote share until around 1996.
Shares of the vote in general elections since 1832 received by Conservatives[note 1] (blue), Liberals/Liberal Democrats[note 2] (orange), Labour (red) and others (grey)[1][2][3]

In 1801, the right to vote in the United Kingdom was severely restricted. Universal suffrage, on an equal basis for men and women over the age of 21, was established in 1928. 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. A negative majority means that there was a hung parliament (or minority parliament) following that election. For example, at the 1929 general election, Labour was 42 seats short of forming a majority, and so its majority is listed as −42. 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.

List of elections[edit]

Election Date Elected prime minister
(during term)
Winning party Seat majority Seats Turnout[4]
1802 (MPs) 22 July 1802 Henry Addington Tory N/A 658 N/A
(William Pitt the Younger)[a] Tory[b]
The Lord Grenville Whig
1806 (MPs) 17 November 1806
The Duke of Portland Tory[b]
1807 (MPs) 22 June 1807
(Spencer Perceval)[c] Tory
The Earl of Liverpool
1812 (MPs) 24 November 1812
1818 (MPs) 4 August 1818
1820 (MPs) 16 January 1821
1826 (MPs) 19 June 1826
George Canning[a]
(The Viscount Goderich)
(The Duke of Wellington)
1830 (MPs) 9 August 1830 The Duke of Wellington[d]
The Earl Grey Whig
1831 (MPs) 25 July 1831
At this point, the Reform Act 1832 abolished most rotten boroughs; suffrage was extended to propertied male adults, increasing the electorate from 366,000 to 650,000 (18% of males over 21, which is 9% of all adults over 21).[5]
1832 (MPs) 29 January 1833 The Earl Grey Whig 225 658 N/A
(The Viscount Melbourne)[e]
(The Duke of Wellington) Conservative −308
(Sir Robert Peel)
1835 (MPs) 19 February 1835 Sir Robert Peel[f] −113 (C)
(The Viscount Melbourne) Whig 113
1837 (MPs) 15 November 1837 The Viscount Melbourne[g] 29
1841 (MPs) 19 August 1841 The Viscount Melbourne[h] N/A
(Sir Robert Peel)[i] Conservative 77
(Lord John Russell) Whig N/A
1847 (MPs) 9 August 1847 Lord John Russell[j] −72 656
(The Earl of Derby) Conservative N/A
1852 (MPs) 4 November 1852 The Earl of Derby[k] 7 654
(The Earl of Aberdeen)[l] Peelite N/A
(The Viscount Palmerston) Whig N/A
1857 (MPs) 30 April 1857 The Viscount Palmerston[6] 100
(The Earl of Derby) Conservative N/A
1859 (MPs) 31 May 1859 The Earl of Derby[7] N/A
(The Viscount Palmerston) Liberal 59
1865 (MPs) 11 July 1865 The Viscount Palmerston[a] 81 658
(The Earl Russell)[m] N/A
(The Earl of Derby) Conservative N/A
(Benjamin Disraeli) N/A
At this point, the Reform Act 1867 significantly widened the suffrage increasing the numbers of voters from 1 million to 2 million men, and disenfranchised more smaller boroughs.[8]
1868 (MPs) 10 December 1868 William Ewart Gladstone Liberal 115 658 N/A
1874 (MPs) 5 March 1874 Benjamin Disraeli Conservative 49 652
1880 (MPs) 29 April 1880 William Ewart Gladstone[9] Liberal 51
(The Marquess of Salisbury) Conservative N/A
At this point, the Representation of the People Act 1884 extended the borough franchise of 1867 to the counties, increasing the electorate from 3 million to 5 million men.[10]
1885 (MPs) 12 January 1886 The Marquess of Salisbury[11] Conservative N/A 670 N/A
(William Ewart Gladstone)[12] Liberal −16
1886 (MPs) 5 August 1886 The Marquess of Salisbury Conservative 58
1892 (MPs) 4 August 1892 The Marquess of Salisbury[13] N/A
(William Ewart Gladstone) Liberal −126
(The Earl of Rosebery)[14] N/A
The Marquess of Salisbury[15] Conservative N/A
1895 (MPs) 12 August 1895 The Marquess of Salisbury 153
1900 (MPs)[n] 3 December 1900 The Marquess of Salisbury 135
(Arthur Balfour) N/A
(Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman)[16] Liberal N/A
1906 (MPs) 13 February 1906 Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman 129
(H. H. Asquith)
Jan. 1910 (MPs) 15 February 1910 H. H. Asquith −122
Dec. 1910 (MPs) 31 January 1911 H. H. Asquith −126
(David Lloyd George)
The Parliament Act 1911 reduced the maximum life of a Parliament from seven years to five; however, the election that would have been due by 1916 as a result of the Act was not held due to the First World War (1914–1918).
At this point, the Representation of the People Act 1918 gave suffrage to most of the adult population (men over 21, women over 30) increasing the electorate from 7.7 million to 16.2 million. The male electorate was extended by 5.2 million[17] to 12.9 million.[18] The female electorate was 8.5 million.[19][20]
1918 (MPs) 14 December 1918 David Lloyd George Liberal (Coalition government)[o] 238 707 57.2%
(Bonar Law)[21] Conservative N/A
1922 (MPs) 15 November 1922 Bonar Law 74 615 73.0%
(Stanley Baldwin)
1923 (MPs) 6 December 1923 Stanley Baldwin[22] N/A 71.1%
(Ramsay MacDonald) Labour −98
1924 (MPs) 29 October 1924 Stanley Baldwin Conservative 210 77.0%
At this point, the Representation of the People Act 1928 gave universal suffrage to the adult population over 21, increasing the female electorate by 5 million.
1929 (MPs)[p] 30 May 1929 Ramsay MacDonald Labour −42 615 76.3%
1931 (MPs) 27 October 1931 National Labour (National Government) 492 76.4%
1935 (MPs) 14 November 1935 Stanley Baldwin Conservative (National Government) 242 71.1%
(Neville Chamberlain) 242
(Winston Churchill) Conservative (Wartime Coalition) 609
Conservative (Caretaker Government) 242
The election due by 1940 was not held due to the Second World War (1939–1945)
1945 (MPs) 5 July 1945 Clement Attlee Labour 146 640 72.8%
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 5 625 83.9%
1951 (MPs) 25 October 1951 Sir Winston Churchill Conservative 17 82.6%
(Sir Anthony Eden)
1955 (MPs) 26 May 1955 Sir Anthony Eden 60 630 76.8%
(Harold Macmillan)
1959 (MPs) 8 October 1959 Harold Macmillan 100 78.7%
(Sir Alec Douglas-Home)
1964 (MPs) 15 October 1964 Harold Wilson Labour 4 77.1%
1966 (MPs) 31 March 1966 98 75.8%
At this point, the Representation of the People Act 1969 gave suffrage to the adult population over 18 years old.
1970 (MPs) 18 June 1970 Edward Heath Conservative 30 630 72.0%
Feb. 1974 (MPs) 28 February 1974 Harold Wilson Labour (minority government)[q] −33 78.8%
Oct. 1974 (MPs) 10 October 1974 Harold Wilson Labour 3 635 72.8%
(James Callaghan)
1979 (MPs) 3 May 1979 Margaret Thatcher Conservative 43 76.0%
1983 (MPs) 9 June 1983 144 650 72.7%
1987 (MPs) 11 June 1987 Margaret Thatcher 102 75.3%
(John Major)
1992 (MPs) 9 April 1992 John Major 21 651 77.7%
1997 (MPs) 1 May 1997 Tony Blair Labour 179 659 71.4%
2001 (MPs) 7 June 2001 167 59.4%
2005 (MPs) 5 May 2005 Tony Blair 66 646 61.4%
(Gordon Brown)
2010 (MPs) 6 May 2010 David Cameron Conservative[r] 78[s] 650 65.1%
At this point, the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 was passed. Elections are now every five years, barring parliamentary vote.
2015 (MPs) 7 May 2015 David Cameron Conservative 12 650 66.1%
(Theresa May)
2017 (MPs) 8 June 2017 Theresa May Conservative (minority government)[q] 0[t] 68.7%
(Boris Johnson)
Election Date Elected prime minister
(during term)
Winning party Seat majority Seats Turnout[23]
  1. ^ a b c Died in office.
  2. ^ a b c Pittite; identified as Whig.
  3. ^ Murdered in office.
  4. ^ Was defeated on a motion to examine the accounts of the Civil List on 15 November 1830 and resigned the following day.[25]
  5. ^ Was dismissed by William IV on 14 November 1834.[26]
  6. ^ a b Peel was defeated on a report about the Irish Church on 7 April 1835 and resigned the following day.[24]
  7. ^ Defeated on a motion of no confidence on 4 June 1841 and advised the Queen to dissolve Parliament, which she did on 23 June.[27]
  8. ^ Ministry met the House of Commons, but was defeated on an amendment to the Address on 27 August 1841 and resigned on 30 August 1841.[28]
  9. ^ Was defeated on an Irish Coercion Bill on 25 June 1846 and resigned on 29 June 1846.[30]
  10. ^ Was defeated on a militia Bill on 20 February 1852 and resigned on 23 February[31]
  11. ^ Was defeated on the Budget on 16 December 1852 and resigned on 19 December 1852.[32]
  12. ^ Was defeated on a vote in favour of a select committee to enquire into alleged mismanagement during the Crimean War on 29 January 1855 and resigned the next day.[33]
  13. ^ Was defeated on Parliamentary reform proposals on 18 June 1866] and resigned on 26 June 1866.[29]
  14. ^ a b A Khaki election.
  15. ^ a b Coalition Coupon.
  16. ^ a b Known as the "flapper" election.
  17. ^ a b c Hung parliament.
  18. ^ a b Hung parliament. Formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
  19. ^ a b Combined coalition total.
  20. ^ a b Confidence and supply agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party.

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See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Including Tory (1832), Conservative (from 1835), Liberal Conservative (1847–59), Liberal Unionist (1886–1910), National parties (1931–45).
  2. ^ Including Whig (to mid-19th century), Liberal (mid-19th century to 1979), National Liberal (1922), Independent Liberal (1931), SDP-Liberal Alliance (1983–87) and Liberal Democrat (from 1992).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Table 2.01 "Summary Results of General Elections 1832–2005 (UK)", British electoral facts, 1832–2006, by Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher, 7th edition, 2007, ISBN 978-0-7546-2712-8, p. 59.
  2. ^ Election 2010 Results, BBC News.
  3. ^ Election 2015 Results, BBC News.
  4. ^ Rogers, Simon (16 November 2012). "UK election historic turnouts since 1918 | News". theguardian.com. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  5. ^ "The 1832 Reform Act". www.bl.uk.
  6. ^ Was defeated on a Bill, which made it a felony to plot in Britain to murder someone abroad, on 19 February 1858 and resigned on the same day
  7. ^ Ministry met the Commons, but was defeated on an amendment to the Address on 10 June 1859 and resigned on 11 June
  8. ^ "Second Great Reform Act, 1867". UK Parliament.
  9. ^ Was defeated on the Budget on 8 June 1885 and resigned the next day
  10. ^ "The Reform Acts". www.victorianweb.org.
  11. ^ Met the Commons, but was defeated on an amendment to the Address on 26 January 1886 and resigned on 28 January
  12. ^ Was defeated on the Government of Ireland Bill on 7 June 1886 and advised the Queen to dissolve Parliament, which she did on 26 June.
  13. ^ Met the Commons, but was defeated on an amendment to the Address on 11 August 1892 and resigned the same day
  14. ^ Was defeated on the Cordite Vote on 21 June 1895 and resigned that day
  15. ^ Became Prime Minister on 25 June 1895 and immediately advised the dissolution of Parliament
  16. ^ Became Prime Minister on 5 December 1905 and immediately advised the dissolution of Parliament
  17. ^ Harold L. Smith (12 May 2014). The British Women's Suffrage Campaign 1866–1928: Revised 2nd Edition. Routledge. p. 95. ISBN 978-1-317-86225-3.
  18. ^ Rallings, Colin; Thrasher, Michael (30 November 2012). British Electoral Facts 1832-2012 (1st ed.). Biteback Publishing. ISBN 978-1849541343.
  19. ^ Martin Roberts (2001). Britain, 1846–1964: The Challenge of Change. Oxford University Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-19-913373-4.
  20. ^ "6 February 1918: Women get the vote for the first time", BBC, 6 February 2018.
  21. ^ Became Prime Minister on 23 October 1922 and immediately advised the dissolution of Parliament
  22. ^ Met the Commons, but was defeated on an amendment to the Address on 21 January 1924 and resigned the next day
  23. ^ Rogers, Simon (16 November 2012). "UK election historic turnouts since 1918 | News". theguardian.com. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  24. ^ http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1835/apr/07/church-of-ireland 7 April 1835