1946 New Zealand general election
All 80 seats in the New Zealand Parliament
41 seats were needed for a majority
The 1946 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the New Zealand Parliament's 28th term. It saw the governing Labour Party re-elected, but by a substantially narrower margin than in the three previous elections. The National Party continued its gradual rise.
The Labour Party had been in government since winning the 1935 elections, and had been re-elected twice. However, the National Party had managed to overcome the internal problems which had once troubled it, and now presented a credible threat to Labour. National's leader, Sidney Holland, was proving more effective than his predecessor, while the Prime Minister, Peter Fraser, was weary and in poor health. The after-effects of World War II, including ongoing shortages, were affecting the government's popularity.
The next census was scheduled for 1946, but the government brought it forward to Tuesday 25 September 1945, so that the results could be used for the 1946 electoral redistribution prior to the planned 1946 election. The 1946 electoral redistribution had to take ten years of population growth and movements into account. The North Island gained a further two electorates from the South Island due to faster population growth. The abolition of the country quota through the Electoral Amendment Act, 1945 reduced the number and increased the size of rural electorates. None of the existing electorates remained unchanged, 26 electorates were abolished, 19 electorates were created for the first time, and six former electorates were re-established.
The date for the main 1946 elections was 27 November, a Wednesday. Elections to the four Māori electorates were held the day before. 1,081,898 people were registered to vote, and there was a turnout of 93.5%. This turnout was the highest ever recorded at this point. The number of seats being contested was 80, a number which had been fixed since 1902.
The outcome of the election was probably affected by the abolition of the country quota the previous year. This had required rural electorates to be smaller than urban electorates, thus increasing the importance of the rural vote. Since National was more popular than Labour in rural areas, the change may have cost National the election.
The 1946 election saw the governing Labour Party retain office by a four-seat margin, winning forty-two seats to the National Party's thirty-eight. In the popular vote — Labour won 51.3% and National won 48.4%. The election was a straight fight between the two main parties (unlike the 1943 election), and only 8 of the 76 European electorates had more than two candidates. The Democratic Labour Party did not take part, and National absorbed many of the miscellaneous candidates and splinter movements. The European electorates divided equally and the Maori seats decided the issue. 
No other parties won any significant share of the vote, and no independents were elected — only 0.3% of voters did not support one of the two major parties. After Harry Atmore of Nelson died, no candidate who was not from the two main parties managed to enter Parliament until the 1966 elections, when the Social Credit Party won its first seat.
|Party||Candidates||Total votes||Percentage||Seats won||Change|
The table below shows the results of the 1946 general election:
- "Politics brought the 1946 Census forward to 1945". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
- McRobie 1989, pp. 91–96.
- "General elections 1853–2005 – dates & turnout". Elections New Zealand. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
- Lipson 2011, p. 220-21.
- "The General Election, 1946". National Library. 1947. pp. 1–11, 14. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
- "The Lists Close" (25951). Evening Star. 16 November 1946. p. 9.
- Wilson 1985, p. 225.
- Wilson 1985, p. 180.
- Gustafson 1986, p. 315.
- Wilson 1985, p. 237.
- Norton 1988, p. 200.
- Wilson 1985, p. 198.
- Norton 1988, p. 212.
- Gustafson 1986, pp. 323f.
- Wilson 1985, p. 197.
- Norton 1988, p. 220.
- Wilson 1985, p. 190.
- Milton-Tee, Ann. "Harry Heaton Barker". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
- Gustafson 1986, p. 382.
- Gustafson 1986, p. 387.
- "Public Notices". The Evening Post. CXXXVI (136). 6 December 1943. p. 4. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
- Gustafson 1986, p. 334.
- Gustafson 1986, pp. 360f.
- Gustafson 1986, p. 375.
- Wilson 1985, p. 245.
- Wilson 1985, p. 179.
- Gustafson 1986, p. 389.
- "Claude Horace Weston". Auckland War Memorial Museum. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
- "General Election". Auckland Star. LXXIV (203). 27 August 1943. p. 4. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
- "Chivers, E Frank, DSM, MID". Torpedo Bay Navy Museum. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
- Gustafson 1986, p. 367.
- Gustafson 1986, p. 377.
- Gustafson, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years : A History of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Reed Methuen. ISBN 0-474-00177-6.
- Lipson, Leslie (2011) . The Politics of Equality: New Zealand’s Adventures in Democracy. Wellington: Victoria University Press. ISBN 978-0-86473-646-8.
- McRobie, Alan (1989). Electoral Atlas of New Zealand. Wellington: GP Books. ISBN 0-477-01384-8.
- Norton, Clifford (1988). New Zealand Parliamentary Election Results 1946–1987. Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington. ISBN 0-475-11200-8.
- Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.