The Labour Party had won the 1957 elections by a narrow margin, beginning New Zealand's second period of Labour government. However, the new administration soon lost its narrow lead in public opinion, with its financial policies being the principal cause of dissatisfaction. The so-called "Black Budget", introduced by Arnold Nordmeyer, increased taxes substantially, with particularly large increases for alcohol and tobacco taxes; Labour became widely seen as both miserly and puritanical. The government defended its tax increases as a necessary measure to avert a balance of payments crisis, but the opposition, led by Keith Holyoake, made substantial gains out of the issue.
The date for the main 1960 elections was 26 November. 1,310,742 people were registered to vote, and turnout was 89.8%. This turnout was slightly lower than what had been recorded in the previous elections. The number of seats being contested was 80, a number which had been fixed since 1902.
The 1960 election saw the governing Labour Party defeated by a twelve-seat margin. It had previously held a two-seat majority. Labour won a total of 34 seats, while the National Party won 46. In the popular vote, Labour won 43.42% to National's 47.59%, becoming the second National government.
The Social Credit Party won 8.62% of the vote, but no seats. Three of their candidates missed the nomination deadline, and the opening address of the party leader P. H. Matthews was not noteworthy.
Norton, Clifford (1988). New Zealand Parliamentary Election Results 1946-1987: Occasional Publications No 1, Department of Political Science. Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington. ISBN0-475-11200-8.
Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC154283103.