‘Not another one!’: going to the polls in historical perspective

The History of Parliament

With UK electors heading off to the national polls for the third time in as many years and as part of our Election 2017 series, Dr Philip Salmon, editor of the Victorian Commons, looks for similar levels of electioneering activity in earlier periods…

By June the UK will have clocked up its fifth general election this century – an average of one every 3.4 years. Although this is slightly higher than the 19th century average (one every 3.8 years) and the 20th century (one every 4), it is remarkably similar in terms of each century’s first two decades: five elections had taken place by 1818 and five by 1918, an average of one every 3.6 years. Add in last year’s referendum, however, and modern voters will have experienced two general elections separated by a gap of just two years, and three national polls in a…

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