New Zealand general election, 1946

New Zealand general election, 1946
New Zealand general election, 1946
New Zealand
1943 ←
26 (Māori) & 27 November (general) 1946
→ 1949

All 80 seats in the Parliament of New Zealand
41 seats were needed for a majority
Turnout 1,047,205 (93.5%)
  First party Second party
  Peter Fraser.jpg Sidney George Holland (1953).jpg
Leader Peter Fraser Sidney Holland
Party Labour National
Leader since 1940 1940
Leader's seat Wellington Central Christchurch North
Last election 45 seats, 47.6% 34 seats, 42.8%
Seats won 42 38
Seat change decrease 3 increase 4
Popular vote 536,994 507,139
Percentage 51.3% 48.4%
Swing increase 3.7% increase 5.6%

Prime Minister before election

Peter Fraser

Elected Prime Minister

Peter Fraser

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 having an impact on the government's popularity.

The election

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.[1]

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%. 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 Leader Votes Percentage Seats won change
Labour Peter Fraser 536,994 51.3% 42 -3
National Sid Holland 507,139 48.4% 38 +4
Independents 3,072 0.3 0 -1
Labour re-elected 1,047,205 100% 80


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