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Wide Interest In Outcome Of Election

AS a rule, the people of Britain have not to wait for more than one day following a General Election to learn how political fortunes have fared, but in the case of the present elections, in connection with which voting began on July 5, any feelings of impatience have had to be curbed until to-morrow. The hiatus is due to the unique circumstance that the election took place during a state of war. While the majority of the electors voted on Thursday, July 5, and Thursday, July 12—there were two polling days because of holidays in Britain—the ballot boxes had to be kept locked pending the receipt of the votes of members Of the forces overseas.

The elections afforded the people their first opportunity of voting since 1935. This will mean that young people who were 11 years of age in 1935 and others who were then under 21 will have voted on this occasion for the first time.

When Parliament dissolved early in June, it came, to an end after a life of 115 months, the longest since the dissolution of 1679, and the fourth longest in British history. It had the distinction of having sat under three monarchs. It came into being a few months before the death of George V. and it witnessed the abdication of Edward VIII. and the succession of George VI. No other Parliament has had so many Prime Ministers or Governments. There were three Prime Ministers—Mr. Baldwin, Mr. Chamberlain, and Mr. Churchill—and four separate Governments—Mr. Baldwin's and Mr. Chamberlain's National Governments, Mr. Churchill's Coalition Government and, in Parliament's dying phase, Mr.' Churchill's "caretaker" Government.

The old Parliament came into being with the National elements led by Mr. Baldwin, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald (who suffered defeat in his own electorate of Seaham Harbour) and Sir John Simon holding an overwhelming number of seats compared with the Opposition. The number of seats held by the supporters of Mr. Baldwin's Government totalled 431, made up as follows:— Conservative (Mr. Baldwin), 387; National Labour (Mr. McDonald), 8; Liberal National (Sir John Simon), 33; and National, 3. The Opposition held 184 seats, made up as follows: Labour (Mr. Attlee), 154; 1.L.P., 4; Liberal (Sir Herbert Samuel), 17; Independent Liberal (Mr. Lloyd George), 4; Communist, 1; Republican, 2; Independent, 2.

The number of Government members returned, however, was out of proportion to the actual votes cast— an effect of three-cornered and multicornered contests. Of a grand total of 22,001,837 votes, the Government received 11,792,332, or a little more than half. The Conservatives, by far the biggest element in the Government, polled 10,488,626 votes. Of the Opposition, Labour was the highest with 8,325.260 votes and Sir Herbert Samuel's Liberals next with 1,377,962 votes. It is because of these figures that the outcome of the present general election is awaited with so much interest. "When nominations closed on June 25 a total of 1675 had been received, 97 below the record figure for 1929. Of the principal parties the nominations were Labour 601, Conservatives 547, Liberals 305: In 26 electorates the issue has been a straight-out one between Labour and Conservatives. For the rest there have been three-cornered, fourcornered and even five-cornered contests. The increase in the number of electorates from 615 to 640 and the addition of 7,000,000 voters to the roll make the issue anybody's guess.

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Bibliographic details

Wide Interest In Outcome Of Election, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 175, 26 July 1945

Word Count

Wide Interest In Outcome Of Election Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 175, 26 July 1945

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