The election also saw Irish nationalists in the Home Rule League become the first significant third party in Parliament. This had been the first General Election that used a secret ballot following the 1872 Secret Ballot Act. The Irish Nationalist gains could well be attributed to the effects of the secret ballot as tenants faced less of a threat of eviction if they voted against the wishes of their landlords.
This is the only time since the introduction of the secret ballot that a party has been defeated despite receiving an absolute majority of the popular vote. However, this is primarily due to the fact that over 100 Conservative candidates were elected unopposed. This meant that there was no contest in many constituencies where the Conservatives were popular.