New Zealand general election, 1890

New Zealand general election, 1890
1890 general election
New Zealand
1887 ←
27 November (Māori) & 5 December (general) 1890
→ 1893

All 74 seats in the New Zealand House of Representatives
38 seats were needed for a majority
Turnout 80.4%
  First party Second party
  John Ballance.jpg Sir Harry Albert Atkinson, ca 1885.jpg
Leader John Ballance Harry Atkinson
Party Liberal Independent
Leader since 1891 1887
Leader's seat Whanganui Egmont
Seats won 40 9
Popular vote 76,548 20,451
Percentage 56.1% 15.0%

Premier before election

Harry Atkinson

Elected Premier

John Ballance

The New Zealand general election of 1890 was one of New Zealand's most significant.[1] It marked the beginning of party politics in New Zealand with the formation of the First Liberal government, which was to enact major welfare, labour and electoral reforms, including giving the vote to women.

It was also the first election in which there was no legal plural voting. Multi-member electorates were re-introduced in the four main centres and the 'country quota' (which gave more weight to rural votes) was increased to 28%.

74 MPs were elected to the 11th session of the New Zealand Parliament. The Māori electorates voted on 27 November and the European (now known as General) electorates on 5 December. There were 183,171 voters registered in the sixty-two European electorates, which returned a total of 70 members.[2] This figure includes 13,668 voters in the six electorates where there was an unopposed return. 136,337 valid votes were cast in European electorates, including additional votes cast in the four three-member electorates.

Mackie and Rose suggest there was a 74.4% turnout, based on valid votes cast as a percentage of the registered electors. The official turnout figure is 80.4%, calculated on a different basis (see the Elections New Zealand official results web-site link below for further details of the changing methods used to calculate the official turnout).

The Māori vote, for the remaining four seats, was held on 27 November. Māori voters were not registered at this period.

Following the election John Ballance formed the first Liberal Party ministry, taking office on 24 January 1891. At this stage no formal party organisation existed, but the formation of the Liberal ministry signalled the end of the system by which governments were made up of a loose and unstable coalition of independent MPs and the beginning of the 'party system'.


Result by Party

Party Total votes Percentage Seats won
Liberal 76,548 56.1% 40
Opposition 39,338 28.9% 25
Independent 20,451 15.0% 9
  • Notes:
  • (1) Six European members were returned unopposed.
  • (2) This election was held before the establishment of formal political parties, so the figures should only be regarded as an approximate indication of the division of political opinion.
  • (3) Maori electorates did not have electoral rolls so their voting figures and percentages are not included above.

See also


  1. ^ Atkinson, Neill (2003), Adventures in Democracy: A History of the Vote in New Zealand, p.81
  2. ^ "General elections 1853-2005 - dates & turnout". Elections New Zealand. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 

External links


  • The International Almanac of Electoral History, 3rd edition, Thomas T. Mackie and Richard Rose (Macmillan 1991)

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