ID 1443

Parliament of Victoria, Legislative Assembly election

Election of 21 January 1868

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Victoria, Legislative Assembly votes and seats won

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Election held on 21 January 1868
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)  100,211  100.00  0.00  78  100.00 
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 0.00       
Totals 100,211  100.00    78  100.00 

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Election dates: Elections were held over the period from 21 January to 20 February 1868.

Premier in office at election: Premier McCulloch and his government had been returned to office with the support of a substantial majority of Assembly members at the Legislative Assembly elections held from 30 December 1865 to 29 January 1866. The period from 1865 to 1868 was marked by serious conflict between the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council which involved deadlocks between the two houses, the Council's refusal to accept budget measures and the disruption of government. Both the 1865-66 election and this election (1868) were dominated by the conflict with the Legislative Council and its refusal to pass appropriation Bills authorizing government expenditure. For the details and context of these disputes, see Wright, pp 74-81 (in 'Sources', below), Waugh, pp 32-34 (in 'References', below), and the notes to the 1865-66 election and McCulloch’s first period in office.

Premier in office after election: The 1868 Legislative Assembly election was fought on the issue of the Legislative Council's refusal to pass the government's appropriation Bill and the McCulloch ministry was returned with an overwhelming majority, winning '... 60 supporters in a House of 78.', Wright p.79 (see 'Sources', below). Notwithstanding this public support, the Legislative Council, backed by the Colonial Office in London, refused to moderate its position and this constitutional deadlock paralyzed government administration and prompted two changes of premier until July 1868 when it was resolved by a change of policy at the Colonial Office; for details and context see the notes to Sladen's period in office.

Electoral system and voting: Electoral legislation was consolidated and amended in 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 margnially from Carr’s figures; where they differ from those in the tables above, they are listed in ‘Sources’, below. Jaensch and Hughes are the only source for the total number of voters on the roll at this election; Carr only provides figures for the enrolment in contested seats, and the number on the roll in uncontested seats is the difference between these two figures. Note that Carr lists 9 seats as uncontested (in 7 districts) while Jaensch and Hughes show 11 uncontested seats.

Enrolment and the number of votes cast show increases over the 1865-66 election, and turnout increased from 55.2 percent to 61.6 percent at this election (1868). No details are provided for the number of informal (invalid) ballots, but six of the single member electoral districts in Carr’s list show small differences between the number of ballots cast and a smaller number of valid votes, suggesting that some ballots were invalid. The average difference in these districts is 1.4 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 favouring the Opposition, affiliations that could change after the election; for comments on factionalism and influences on members during this period, see Wright, pp 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 was dominated by the disagreements between the McCulloch government with a substantial majority in the Assembly, and the Legislative Council. The events are well summarized in John Waugh, ' "The Inevitable McCulloch" and hi Rivals,1863-1877', pp 32-35, in Paul Strangio and Brian Costar (editors), The Victorian Premiers 1856-2006, ch. 3, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2006, ISBN 9781862876019). A more extensive treatment can be found in Wright, pp 74-81, (in 'Sources', below) and note Stuart MacIntyre, A Colonial Liberalism: The Lost World of Three Victorian Visionaries, pp 41-54, (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1991, ISBN 0195547608); see also Geoffrey Serle's Prologue, pp 1-13, to his book The Rush to be Rich: A History of the Colony of Victoria 1883-1889, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1971). A conservative view of the period can be found in Henry Gyles Turner, A History of the Colony of Victoria from its Discovery to its Absorption in the Commonwealth of Australia, volume 2, ch. 5, (London: Longman Greens, 1904)

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.


Adam Carr, '1868', in 'Legislative Assembly Elections', Victorian Elections Since 1843, Psephos: Adam Carr's Election Archive, online here [accessed 14 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: 11
Voters on roll in uncontested seats: 13,118
Voters on roll in contested seats: 102,724
Total ballots cast: 63,275
Total valid votes: 101,810

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)