Election held on 22 February 1883
Criteria for the inclusion of parties in this table are set out in the Glossary under 'listed party'
|Party Name||First preference vote n||First preference vote share %||Change from previous election %||Seats won n||Uncontested seats held n||Seat share %|
|Votes for other than listed parties||0||0.00||0.00|
* Party did not contest previous election or did not meet criteria for listing, or contested previous election under a different party name.
Premier in office at election: There had been a change of Premier since the previous Assembly election in July 1880. The two general elections for the Legislative Assembly held in February and July 1880 had been fought over a range of issues but chief among them was the constitutional reform of the Legislative Council. The Berry government had been defeated at the election in February 1880, but when a constitutional reform bill proposed by the new government led by Premier Service failed to pass the Assembly, Service was granted a dissolution for an Assembly election in July 1880. After the July 1880 election, Berry was able to form a government with the support of a group of Catholic members (see Strangio, p. 66, in 'References', below).
By mid-1881, supporters of financial aid for Catholic schools had become dissatisfied with the Berry government, and '... the Berry era closed, his third ministry defeated on a no confidence motion.' Strangio, pp 66-67 (see 'References', below). The want of confidence motion was moved by O'Loghlen, and passed 41 to 38 in the early hours of 1 July 1881. When Berry was refused a dissolution, O'Loghlen was invited to form a government and was commissioned as Premier on 9 July 1881.
'O'Loghlen's minority government survived for 21 months with the support of Constitutionalists determined to deny Berry further office. Parliamentary turmoil continued, over the tariff and State assistance for Catholic schools, subjects eventually consigned to royal commissions. O'Loghlen's humiliating bungling of a critical overseas loans spelled the end for his ministry.' Lack, p.77 (see 'References', below). O'Loghlen requested a dissolution for an Assembly election. 'The government was so unpopular that O'Loghlen had difficulty in finding candidates and was himself defeated.' Serle, p.18 (see 'References', below).
Premier in office after election: After the election, neither the Constitutionalists [Conservatives] led by Service, nor the Liberals, led by Berry could command a majority in the Assembly and there was pressure for a coalition. 'Within a week, Service and Berry had met to discuss terms, agree on four ministers from each side, and a coalition program that was subsequently ratified by the parties' caucuses. Service became premier, for the Constitutionalists [Conservatives] had the larger numbers, and Service had dictated the terms of the election.' Lack, pp 77-78 (see 'References', below).
Electoral system and voting: The Electoral Act Amendment Act of 1876 increased the number Legislative Assembly seats from 78 to 86 and the number of electoral districts from 49 to 55, 29 of which were single member districts, 21 two member districts, and 5 three member districts. As in previous elections, 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. Jaensch and Hughes is the only source for the number of ballots cast at this election.
Factions and political parties: Carr's online Election Archive provides labels indicating the political orientation of candidates for each electoral district at the time of the election as reported in contemporary newspapers (see ‘Sources’ below). These labels – ‘Conservative’, ‘Liberal’ (or Radical), and ‘Ministerialist’ -- have been used to assign vote shares and seats to these various categories. A few candidates were listed without a label and they have been assigned to an ‘Independent’ category.
These categories, in spite of their listing in the tables above as parties, were only loose associations of likeminded candidates and did not imply the kind of party organization and discipline now associated with political parties. But Wright had noted that, with Premier Berry's gaining office after the May 1877 Legislative Assembly election, partisan activities with some of the characteristics of parliamentary parties began to appear. 'Berry not only held this disparate [ministry] together, but did so with such skill that for the first time in the colony's history, a close approximation of party discipline was evident in the chambers. Whips organized attendance in the houses, tactics were discussed in caucus, questions and answers planned in advance -- in short an early form of party discipline was maintained, with a brief interruption, until mid-1881.' Wright, p. 84 (see 'Sources', below), The Assembly elections in February and July 1880 also marked the first time that successive governments had been established after winning majority support at an election and had lost office after defeat at a general election.
The factional politics and influence peddling that had characterized parliamentary politics (see Wright pp 34-38, and 63-72, in 'Sources', below), was beginning to give way to more organized party politics; for the evolution of political parties in Victoria, see D W Rawson, ‘Victoria’, in P Loveday, A W Martin and R S Parker (editors), The Emergence of the Australian Party System, pp 44-116, (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1977, ISBN 0908094035).
References: For a study of the Victorian parliament in this period, see, Wright, ch. 5 (see 'Sources', below), and note the 'Prologue' and ch. 1 in Geoffrey Serle, The Rush to be Rich: A History of the Colony of Victoria, 1883-1889, pp 1-13, 17-44 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1971). For a review of the politics during this period , see Paul Strangio, 'Broken Heads and Flaming Houses: Graham Berry, the Wild Colonial', ch. 4, and John Lack, 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? Service and Gillies: The Grand Coalition Premiers, 1883-1890', ch. 5, both chapters in Paul Strangio and Brian Costar, (editors), The Victorian Premiers 1856-2006, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2006, ISBN 9781862876019).
Alfred Deakin provides a colourful picture of his involvement in Victorian politics of the time in The Crisis in Victorian Politics, 1879-1881: A Personal Retrospect, edited by J A La Nauze and R M Crawford, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1957). 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.
Adam Carr, '22 February 1883', in 'Legislative Assembly Elections', Victorian Elections Since 1843, Psephos: Adam Carr's Election Archive, online here [accessed 12 September 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;
Total voters on the roll: 196,611
Voters on roll in uncontested seats: 30,660
Voters on roll in contested seats: 165,951
Total valid votes: 192,368
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)