What Factors Influenced the Extension of the Franchise Up to 1918?

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What factors influenced the extension of the franchise up to 1918? The franchise of democracy was extended to more and more people in Britain from 1867, 1884 and 1918. This happened for many reasons. At the time there was growing public pressure to push new political ideologies of democracy and liberalism and the newfound attitude of the working and middle-class that were the earners of the country, therefore they should get the vote. These factors tie in with the political power plays between the Whigs and Tories, who were playing for an advantage over one another, and the looming threat of socialism. This essay will look at all of these factors. One of the more important reasons for the extension of the franchise up to 1918 were societal changes. The industrial revolution changed how people lived and the way they thought about their place in society. The middle class believed that because they were the ones working and earning the country’s wealth, they were deserving of the vote. Indeed, there was growing respect for the so-called urban artisans and the skilled working class whose voices were only now beginning to be heard. As the population moved away from rural areas into towns and cities, the landowning aristocrats of those rural areas started to lose their power. With people living and working closer together and improved communication, ideas like democracy and liberalism increased dramatically in popularity. However despite all of these changes in attitudes Britain was still primarily ruled and governed by the upper and upper-middle-class aristocracy. At this time the House of Commons was elected by only 4.16% of the population. The lack of response from the government to these social changes only increased the thirst of the public for a fairer democracy ultimately leading to the second reform act of 1867, which increased the size of the electorate to 2.5
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