1852 United Kingdom general election

The 1852 United Kingdom general election was a watershed in the formation of the modern political parties of Britain. Following 1852, the Tory/Conservative party became, more completely, the party of the rural aristocracy, while the Whig/Liberal party became the party of the rising urban bourgeoisie in Britain. The results of the election were extremely close in terms of the numbers of seats won by the two main parties.

1852 United Kingdom general election

 1847 7–31 July 1852 (1852-07-07 1852-07-31) 1857 

All 654 seats in the House of Commons
328 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party
 
Leader Earl of Derby Lord John Russell
Party Conservative Whig
Leader since July 1846 October 1842
Leader's seat House of Lords City of London
Last election 325 seats, 42.7% 292 seats, 53.8%
Seats won 330[1] 324
Seat change 5 32
Popular vote 311,481 430,882
Percentage 41.9% 57.9%
Swing 0.8% 4.1%

Colours denote the winning party—as shown in § Results

Prime Minister before election

Earl of Derby
Conservative

Prime Minister after election

Earl of Derby
Conservative

As in the previous election of 1847, Lord John Russell's Whigs won the popular vote, but the Conservative Party won a very slight majority of the seats. However, a split between Protectionist Tories, led by the Earl of Derby, and the Peelites who supported Lord Aberdeen made the formation of a majority government very difficult. Lord Derby's minority, protectionist government ruled from 23 February until 17 December 1852. Derby appointed Benjamin Disraeli as Chancellor of the Exchequer in this minority government. However, in December 1852, Derby's government collapsed because of issues arising out of the budget introduced by Disraeli. A Peelite–Whig-Radical coalition government was then formed under Lord Aberdeen. Although the immediate issue involved in this vote of "no confidence" which caused the downfall of the Derby minority government was the budget, the real underlying issue was repeal of the Corn Laws which Parliament had passed in June 1846.