Gladstone's Domestic Second Ministry


Electoral Reform

  • Corrupt Practices Act 1883
  • The Franchise Act 1884
  • Redistribution of Seats Act 1884
  • Brought Britain much closer towards democracy
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Electoral Reform

Corrupt Practices Act 1883:

  • Closed the loopholes of the Ballot Act that had allowed corruption to continue
  • Candidate's election expenses were set to a specified limit 
  • Made clear what campaign money could be spent on
  • Election agents had to produce accounts
  • Clearly defined illegal and corrupt practices
  • Introduced stiff fines and prison sentences for anyone breaking the law
  • Politicians now had to win support by promoting better policies
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Electoral Reform

The Franchise Act (1884)

  • In the counties, the vote was given to all male householders over 21 and £10 lodgers
  • A £10 occupier franchise was created for those living in shops or offices
  • The older franchises still applied

Terms of the Redistribution of Seats Act (1885)

  • Boroughs with a population of under 15,000 lost both their MPs
  • Boroughs with a population under 50,000 lost one MP
  • 142 seats were redistributed 
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Electoral Reform

  • Real impetus came from Chamberlain
  • Part of his strategy to take control of the Liberals 
  • Replace its ageing leadership with his own younger, more radical package
  • Chamberlain believed that electoral reform could produce more Liberal voters 
  • Mainly agricultural labourers and a large number of miners
  • No logical argument against extending the franchise
  • Gladstone's ministry was running into trouble over Ireland 
  • Agreed to electoral reform as a means of wining back popularity
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The effects of electoral reform

  • Franchise reform removed discrimination over voting
  • No longer tied to property
  • Uniform franchise for both counties boroughs now existed
  • Agricultural labourers and miners in rural areas were brought into the voting system
  • Electorate doubled from 3 to 6 million out of 35 million
  • Redistribution of seats brought an end to the over-representation of the rural areas and under-representation of the industrial towns and cities
  • Most constituencies were now single members and equally sized in terms of population
  • Fair representation across Britain
  • Encouraged parties to improve their organisation and the efficiency of their party machines 
  • Modern ystem of electoral representation
  • New Irish voters strengthened the home rule fight
  • Gladstone's administration achieved little else in terms of reform
  • Distracted by crisis abroad and the problems over Ireland
  • Gladstone was increasingly difficult to work with 
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