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The Electoral System

  • Neal Blewett

Abstract

‘Our present system of representation was an accumulated patchwork, composed partly of a little conviction, partly of a little concession, and partly of a little cowardice.’ So spoke Lewis Harcourt of the electoral system under which the 1910 elections were fought.1 That ‘patchwork’ was composed of five major acts passed a generation before — the Ballot Act (1872), the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Act (1883), the Franchise Act (1884), the Redistribution Act (1885) and the Registration Act (1885) — plus a host of lesser measures passed over several centuries. Much of the electoral system, particularly the franchise and registration elements, had evolved haphazardly through a long process of cumulative legislation. As Lowell observed in 1908: ‘The present condition of the franchise is, indeed, historical rather than rational.’2

Keywords

Electoral System Labour Party Corrupt Practice Electoral District Plural Vote 
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Notes

  1. 11.
    For these estimates see S. Rosenbaum, ‘The General Election of January 1910, and the Bearing of the Results on Some Problems of Representation’, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, lxxiii (1910) 473–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 15.
    M. MacDonagh, ‘The Making of Parliament’, Nineteenth Century and After, lix (Jan 1906) 31.Google Scholar
  3. 30.
    Rosenbaum, J. R. Statist. Soc., lxxiii (1910) 482–4.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Neal Blewett 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neal Blewett
    • 1
  1. 1.Flinders University of South AustraliaAustralia

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