Parliamentary Chamber: House of Commons


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  House of Commons

Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  9 April 1992

Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all the seats in the House of Commons following dissolution of this body on 16 March 1992. General elections had previously been held in June 1987.

Background and outcome of elections:

  When the election date was announced on 11 March 1992, Parliament was only three months from completing its maximum five-year term.

The month-long campaign was relatively calm, focusing on domestic issues. Prominent among these were the country’s economy, mired in its longest recession in years, and at the state of public services, including the National Health Service (NHS). Also seen as important was the credibility of the leaders of the two biggest political parties - Prime Minister John Major (Conservative Party), who had succeeded Mrs. Margaret Thatcher in November 1990, and Mr. Neil Kinnock (Labour Party). A key item of the economic debate involved taxes, the ruling Conservatives advocating a low-tax policy and opposition Labour proposing hikes at higher incomes levels. The Conservatives moreover criticized their opponent’s plans to increase public expenditure, while Labour countered by blaming the Government for the recession and outlined plans to redress social inequalities.

Public opinion polls predicted a close outcome, with the resulting possibility that the small centrist Liberal Democrats Party, led by Mr. Paddy Ashdown, would hold the balance of power. The Liberal Democrats had stressed the need to revise the “first-past-the-post” electoral system and to revitalize the educational sector. Altogether, 2,948 candidates were in the running for the enlarged House of Commons’ 651 seats (one more than before).

On polling day, the swing to Labour was smaller than foreseen as the Conservatives captured 336 seats to gain an overall majority of 21 in the Commons. Labour, for its part, reinforced its position as main opposition by picking up 42 additional seats. The Conservatives’ victory, albeit with a reduced majority, was their fourth consecutive one, a feat unmatched in the country since the early 19th century. Political observers attributed this in part to voters’ anxieties over the prospects of a socialist Government or a hung (no majority) Parliament but also to Mr. Major’s personal popularity. Given the election outcome, he continued as Prime Minister and named his new Cabinet on 11 April.

Round no 1 (9 April 1992): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 43,253,000 (approx.)
Voters 77%
Valid votes 33,609,431

Round no 1: Distribution of votes  
Political Group Candidates Votes %
Conservative Party 645 14,093,148 41.9
Labour Party 634 11,557,134 34.4
Liberal Democrats 632 5,998,446 17.8
Scottish National Party 72 629,552 1.9
Plaid Cymru 38 156,796 0.5
Ulster Unionist Party 13 271,049 0.8
Democratic Unionist Party 7 103,039 0.3
Ulster Popular Unionist 1 19,305 0.1
Social Democratic and Labour Party 13 184,445 0.5
Others 893 596,517 1.8

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total Gain/Loss
Conservative Party 336 -39
Labour Party 271 +42
Liberal Democrats 20 -2
Scottish National Party 3 =
Plaid Cymru 4 +1
Ulster Unionist Party 9 =
Democratic Unionist Party 3 =
Ulster Popular Unionist 1 =
Social Democratic and Labour Party 4 +1
Others 0 -2

  One seat added since last elections.

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 591
Women: 60

Distribution of seats according to age:  
25-29 years 1
30-34 years 21
35-39 years 60
40-44 years 117
45-49 years 141
50-54 years 125
55-59 years 88
60-64 years 65
65-69 years 30
70-74 years 2
75-79 years 1

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Copyright 1992 Inter-Parliamentary Union