ID 1445

Parliament of Victoria, Legislative Assembly election

Election of 25 March 1874


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General election for the Legislative Assembly
Victoria
Date of election (or first day of voting at elections held over more than one day)
25 March 1874

Government in office and parliamentary support before and after the election

Government in office at election

Premier in office at date of election. (check notes to see if change of Premier since previous election)
Premier's party affiliation
Support from parliamentary factions and independents
Legislative Assembly support for government at election
Minority
If coalition, coalition partner(s)

Government in office after election

Premier's party affiliation
Support from parliamentary factions and independents
Legislative Assembly support for government after election
Minority
If coalition, coalition partner(s)

Enrolment and voting

Total number of voters on the roll
142,480
Number of Assembly seats
78
Number of uncontested seats
11
If uncontested seats, number of voters on the roll in uncontested seats
12,819
Number of voters on the roll in contested seats
129,661
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems)
80,303
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats)
61.93%
Total valid votes
127,272
Rate of informal (invalid) voting
Not applicable
Informal (invalid) ballots in multiple voting system
0
Electoral system
Manhood suffrage, plural voting, single and multimember districts (multiple voting), first past the post (plurality) voting (see notes)


Victoria, Legislative Assembly votes and seats won

Display Chart

Election held on 25 March 1874
Criteria for the inclusion of parties in this table are set out in the Glossary under 'listed party'

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Party Name First preference vote n First preference vote share % Change from previous election % Seats won n Uncontested seats held n Seat share %
Independents (no disciplined party groupings)  127,272  100.00  0.00  78  11  100.00 
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 0.00       
Totals 127,272  100.00    78  11  100.00 


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Notes

Election dates: Elections were held over the period from 25 March to 22 April 1874.

Premier in office at election: There had been two changes of Premier since the previous Legislative Assembly election in February and March 1871 at which the McCulloch ministry had been returned. But 'McCulloch's links with his traditional supporters were weakening, without a solid base to replace them [note omitted]. After the elections of 1871, he lost a vote on his proposal to introduce a broad property tax, defeated by an awkward alliance of protectionists and free-traders.' Waugh, p.36 (see 'References', below). McCulloch resigned with effect from 19 June 1871, and Duffy was commissioned to form a government.

After a year in office, the Duffy '.... government's opponents ultimately found the weapon they needed in the appointment of a new secretary for the Victorian agent-general in London. The job went to an old colleague of Duffy's on the Nation newspaper. The combination of Catholic Irish nationalism with a whiff of nepotism swung more MPs against the government which lost its majority.' Waugh, p.41 (see 'References', below) and Duffy resigned as Premier; for details and references, see the notes to Duffy's period in office.

Francis was commissioned to form a government on 10 June 1872. 'Francis became [McCulloch's] treasurer in 1870, and when McCulloch temporarily left Parliament, Francis took over as leader of his supporters. With Constitutionalist support, this gave him the numbers to become premier....' Waugh, p.42 (see 'References', below).

Premier after election: 'Francis took personal charge of the big issue of the government's last year in office, constitutional reform. He tried to make it the focus of the 1874 election campaign, but he found the demand for constitutional change hard to rouse, although he was returned as premier [note omitted]. His plan for joint sittings of the two houses to resolve deadlocks.... passed the Assembly by only two votes, and without the necessary absolute majority. The premier was missing from Parliament for the final vote. He had fallen dangerously ill with pleurisy, which forced his resignation soon after ....' Waugh, pp 42-43 (see 'References', below).

Electoral system and voting: Electoral legislation was consolidated and amended by the Electoral Act 1865 which maintained the number and composition of the existing electoral districts, but set out a new set of electoral boundaries. As in the previous election, 78 members were elected from 49 electoral districts, 24 of which were single member districts, 21 two member districts, and 4 three member districts; for those with property in more than one electoral district, plural voting was permitted. Voters in multimember districts had the option of casting as many votes as there were members to be elected from their district (see multiple voting), or they could plump for a single candidate. Voters cast their ballots by crossing off the names of candidates they did not wish to elect, and the most chosen candidate or candidates were elected (plurality voting).

With manhood suffrage for the Legislative Assembly (but not the Legislative Council), all males over 21 years of age who fulfilled residency requirements were eligible to vote for the Assembly. Ratepayers were automatically registered as voters; non-ratepaters were registered by enumeration or separate application, with lists of voters required to be published.

Election results and sources: The election figures in the tables above were calculated from individual electoral district results listed in Carr’s online Election Archive (see ‘Sources’ below), which are compiled from official records and results published in newspapers (for the range of sources and problems with the data, see Carr’s ‘Introduction to Early Victorian Election Statistics', online here [accessed 28 June 2015]). Jaensch and Hughes (see 'Sources', below) provide summary voting figures, some of which differ from Carr’s figures; where they differ from those in the tables above, they are listed in ‘Sources’, below. Note that Carr lists 6 seats as uncontested (in 4 districts) while Jaensch and Hughes show 10 uncontested seats.

Enrolment and the number of votes cast show increases over the 1871 election, and turnout remained steady at around 61 percent.

There were no disciplined political parties at this election, candidates being broadly identified as those supporting the government at the election (Ministerialists) or those opposing the government for various reasons; for comments on factionalism and influences on members during this period, see Wright, pp 34-38, and 63-72 (in 'Sources', below). Carr's online Election Archive provides details of the political orientation of candidates for each district at the time of the election as reported in contemporary newspapers (see ‘Sources’ below)

References: This election reflected the realignment of interests in the Assembly that had begun during the latter stages of Premier McCulloch's second period in office. For a brief survey of Premier Francis's period in ofice, see John Waugh, ' "The Inevitable McCulloch" and his Rivals,1863-1877', pp 41-43, in Paul Strangio and Brian Costar (editors), The Victorian Premiers 1856-2006, ch. 3, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2006, ISBN 9781862876019), and Wright, pp 74-82, (in 'Sources', below) and note Geoffrey Serle's Prologue to his book The Rush to be Rich: A History of the Colony of Victoria 1883-1889, pp 1-13,(Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1971).

A survey of the operation of the Victorian Parliament from 1856 to 1890 is provided in Wright, Part 2, (see 'Sources', below), and note that a comparison of the characteristics of members elected from 1856 to 1881 can be found in Joy E Mills, 'The Composition of the Victorian Parliament, 1856-1881', Historical Studies, Australian and New Zealand, 2 (5) April 1942.

Sources

Adam Carr, '1874', in 'Legislative Assembly Elections', Victorian Elections Since 1843, Psephos: Adam Carr's Election Archive, online here [accessed 31 July 2015].

Dean Jaensch and Colin A Hughes, 'Politics', p. 399, in Wray Vamplew (editor), Australians: Historical Statistics, (Sydney: Fairfax, Syme and Weldon Associates, 1987, ISBN 0949288292); some of the listed results differ from those in the tables above; see the notes on 'Election results and sources', above;

Number of uncontested seats: 8
Voters on roll in uncontested seats: 18,602
Voters on roll in contested seats: 124,884
Total ballots cast: 79,994
Turnout: 64.05%
Total valid votes: 126,983

Victoria, Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, 'Victorian Historical Acts', online here [accessed 9 June 2015].

Raymond Wright, A People's Counsel: A History of the Parliament of Victoria 1856-1990, (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1992, ISBN 0195533593)



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