ID 1450

Parliament of Victoria, Legislative Assembly election

Election of 5 March 1886


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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)
5 March 1886

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
Ministerialists (Conservative)
Legislative Assembly support for government at election
Coalition
If coalition, coalition partner(s)
Ministerialists (Liberal)

Government in office after election

Premier in office after election.
Premier's party affiliation
Ministerialists (Conservative)
Legislative Assembly support for government after election
Coalition
If coalition, coalition partner(s)
Ministerialists (Liberal)

Enrolment and voting

Total number of voters on the roll
214,805
Number of Assembly seats
86
Number of uncontested seats
11
If uncontested seats, number of voters on the roll in uncontested seats
20,250
Number of voters on the roll in contested seats
194,555
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems)
120,535
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats)
61.95%
Total valid votes
209,356
Rate of informal (invalid) voting
Not applicable
Informal (invalid) ballots in multiple voting system
0
Electoral system
Male franchise, 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 5 March 1886
Criteria for the inclusion of parties in this table are set out in the Glossary under 'listed party'

* to view table drag left or right.
Party Name First preference vote n First preference vote share % Change from previous election % Seats won n Uncontested seats held n Seat share %
Ministerialists (Liberal)  83,763  40.01  -10.14  39  45.35 
Ministerialists (Conservative)  61,540  29.39  +1.13  28  32.56 
Opposition (Liberal)  33,660  16.08  10.47 
Independents  24,732  11.81  +8.68  5.81 
Opposition (Conservative)  5,661  2.70  5.81 
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 0.00       
Totals 209,356  100.00    86  11  100.00 


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* Party did not contest previous election or did not meet criteria for listing, or contested previous election under a different party name.

Notes

Premier in office at election: There had been a change of Premier since the previous Assembly election in February 1883. After the 1883 election, neither the 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).

The Victorian Parliament was prorogued on 18 December 1885 at the end of its three year term, and elections were scheduled for early 1886. 'On Boxing Day 1885 the Argus announced that the coalition had been secretly reconstructed by Service, Berry and Kerferd, who would retire, and Gillies and Deakin, who would become, respectively, premier and chief secretary. The next day [27 December 1885], amid a storm of protest, Kerferd was sworn in as a Supreme Court judge, Service would leave politics, and Berry would become [Victorian] agent-general in London.' Lack, p.82 (see 'References', below). Service continued as premier until Gillies was commissioned on 18 February 1886, to prepare for Assembly elections on 5 March 1886.

Premier in office after election: There was some pressure from supporters to break up the coalition between Service's Constitutionalists (Conservatives) and Berry's Liberals, but Gillies as leader of the the more conservative members together with Deakin as the leader of the more radical members agreed to continue the coalition. This coalition of Conservatives and Liberals won enough seats for a comfortable Assembly majority at the 5 March 1886 election, and were returned at the following election in March 1889.

The Gillies-Deakin ministry presided over the boom period of the 1880s which preceded the financial and economic collapse in late 1889 (see generally, Serle in '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’ -- 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 like-minded candidates -- hence some 'Opposition (Liberal)' and 'Opposition (Conservative)' categories in the results above -- 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: The authoritative study of the political life of Victoria during this period is Geoffrey Serle, The Rush to be Rich: A History of the Colony of Victoria, 1883-1889, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1971), and for a study of the Victorian parliament, see, Wright, ch. 5 (see 'Sources', below). For a review of politics at the time of this election, 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).

Sources

Adam Carr, '5 March 1886', in 'Legislative Assembly Elections', Victorian Elections Since 1843, Psephos: Adam Carr's Election Archive, online here [accessed 17 February 2016].

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: 215,830
Voters on roll in uncontested seats: 29,526
Voters on roll in contested seats: 186,304
Turnout: 64.70%
Total valid votes: 209,356

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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