The impact of the 1867 Reform Act

The impact of the 1867 Reform Act

The 1867 Reform Act was to greatly increase the size of the electorate to a much greater extent than the 1832 Reform Act. The 1867 Reform Act became a battle of political wills between Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone with Disraeli doing all that he could to take any form of political credit away from Gladstone. The result was an expansion of the electorate that was far greater than anyone had expected. This can best be seen in the elections immediately before and after the act.

 

In England in the 1865 election, a total of 697,932 votes were cast.

In England in the 1868 election, a total of 1,996,704 were cast.

 

In Wales in the 1865 election, a total of 6,165 votes were cast.

In Wales in the 1868 election, a total of 82,122 votes were cast.

 

In Scotland in the 1865 election, a total of 47,785 votes were cast.

In Scotland in the 1868 election, a total of 149,341 votes were cast.

 

In Ireland in the 1865 election, a total of 93,029 votes were cast.

In Ireland in the 1868 election, a total of 93,416 votes were cast.

 

For the 1874 election, the figures for votes cast had grown to 1,940,589 (England), 89,342 (Wales), 211,543 (Scotland) and 224,648 (Ireland).

 

In 1865, the total votes cast were 854,572 (including the universities vote)

In 1868, the total votes cast were 2,333,251 (including universities)

In 1874, the total votes cast were 2,466,122 (including universities)

 

In less than ten years, the number of men who voted had gone up by just under three times. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that the 1867 Reform Act had a very great impact on the British electoral system. Together with the 1872 Ballot Act, it helped to transform elections in Britain. When these are combined with the 1884 Reform Act an act that did for rural Britain what the 1867 Act had done for towns and cities the combined impact of these acts was highly significant. However, none of the aforementioned act gave any political rights to women so in this sense, a major section of British society was ignored by all three acts.






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