1886 United Kingdom general election

← 1885 1–27 July 1886 (1886-07-01 – 1886-07-27) 1892 →

All 670 seats in the House of Commons
336 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Marquess of Salisbury William Ewart Gladstone Charles Stewart Parnell
Party Conservative and Liberal Unionist Liberal Irish Parliamentary
Leader since April 1881 April 1880 17 October 1882
Leader's seat House of Lords Midlothian Cork City
Last election 247 seats, 43.4% 319 seats, 47.4% 86 seats, 6.9%
Seats won 393 192[a] 85
Seat change Increase146 Decrease127 Decrease1
Popular vote 1,417,627 1,244,683 94,050
Percentage 51.4% 45.1% 3.4%
Swing Increase8.7% Decrease2.2% Decrease3.5%

Colours denote the winning party

Diagram displaying the composition of the House of Commons following the general election

Prime Minister before election

William Ewart Gladstone

Prime Minister after election

Marquess of Salisbury

The 1886 United Kingdom general election took place from 1 to 27 July 1886, following the defeat of the Government of Ireland Bill 1886. It resulted in a major reversal of the results of the 1885 election as the Conservatives, led by Lord Salisbury, were joined in an electoral pact with the breakaway Unionist wing of the Liberals led by Lord Hartington (later the Duke of Devonshire) and Joseph Chamberlain. The new Liberal Unionist party elected 77 members and gave the Conservatives their parliamentary majority, but did not join them in a formal coalition.

William Ewart Gladstone's Liberals, who supported the Irish Home Rule movement, and their sometimes allies the Irish Parliamentary Party, led by Charles Stewart Parnell, were placed a distant second. The split in the Liberal Party ended the period of Liberal dominance. They had held power for 18 of the 27 years since 1859 and won five of the six elections held during that time, but would only be in power for three of the next nineteen years. The political realignment resulting from the Liberal Unionist split also meant that between this election and the end of World War II, only one election (in 1906) would result in a party other than the Conservatives forming a majority government (though the Liberals, and later the Labour Party, would form minority governments with support from smaller parties). This was also the first election since the 1841 election that the Conservatives won a plurality or majority of the popular vote. They would ultimately win at least a plurality of the popular vote in every general election until 1945, again with the exception of the 1906 election.


UK General Election 1886
Candidates Votes
Party Leader Stood Elected Gained Unseated Net % of total % No. Net %
  Conservative and Liberal Unionist Lord Salisbury 563 393 161 14 +146 58.66 51.40 1,417,627 +8.7
  Liberal William Ewart Gladstone 449 192[a] 24 152 −127 28.66 45.13 1,244,683 −2.2
  Irish Parliamentary Charles Stewart Parnell 100 85 1 2 −1 12.69 3.41 94,050 −3.4
  Independent Liberal N/A 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.05 1,247
  Ind. Liberal Unionist N/A 2 0 0 0 0 0 0.02 544

Total votes: 2,758,151
Electorate: 5,708,030 (3,734,832 in contested seats)
Turnout: 74.2%[1]

Vote summary

Popular vote
Conservative and Liberal Unionist
Irish Parliamentary
Independent Liberal
Independent Liberal Unionist

Seats summary

Parliamentary seats
Conservative and Liberal Unionist
Irish Parliamentary

See also


  1. ^ a b The seat and vote count figures for the Liberals given here include the Speaker of the House of Commons, Arthur Peel


Further reading


  1. ^ "General Election Results 1885-1979". Archived from the original on 30 January 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2023.