Women Can Vote in General Election
The 14th of December 1918 AD
Just a month after the armistice that ended the fighting in WWI a general election was held in Britain and Ireland. Not only was this a so-called ‘khaki’ election, influenced by the feelings of the returning troops; it was also the first general election in this country in which women could vote. And not just vote – they could stand for election too.
Several women did indeed stand, but only one of them actually won her seat. It has to be remembered that according to the recently passed Representation of the People Act 1918 while men aged 21 and over could vote, women had to be 30 or more, and still had to fulfil certain property or educational qualifications.
The woman who was elected to sit in Parliament never did so: like the other 72 victorious Sinn Fein candidates Countess Constance Georgine Markiewicz did not take up her seat in London (she had won in Dublin St Patrick’s), though like many of them she had little option, being in prison at the time, in her case locked up in Holloway. Nancy Astor in 1919 would be the first woman to sit in Parliament, on December 1, following her by-election victory in the seat vacated by her husband on his elevation to the peerage.
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