Explain why the great reform act of 1832 was passed
A major factor in the passing of the great reform act was the old electoral system, which was extremely unorganised and unfair. In cities like Manchester there was little representation but Old Sarum, a town with a population of just 15, could get two seats in parliament. Bribery in the electoral system was common due to there being no secret ballots; usually the person that was voted into parliament was the person that could provide the best bribes.
Catholic Emancipation was a reason why the Reform Act was passed, also. George IV died in the June of 1830 which meant a general election would automatically follow. The Tories won the election but by a slender margin. The Tories were split over Catholic Emancipation, a number of the Ultras felt they had been forced to pass the Act in 1829 and were offended by this. The Whigs were content on getting into office and knew that if they pushed the issue of parliamentary reform, the Tories would split even further. The Duke of Wellington claimed that that the system in place at the time was as near perfect as anyone in Britain could have hoped for. There was protest against this and his resignation followed. William IV, the new king, called upon Earl Grey and his Whig party to form a government and having made a Reform bill a condition of acceptance, he agreed.
The whigs were not the liberal reformers who believed in sharing political power more sparsely that many thought they were. It is more likely that they were desperate to regain office and saw parliamentary reform as the best way to acquire support. They recognised the danger of a French style revolution, however. The whigs were mostly aristocrats and realised that if they didn’t share some political power they were in danger of losing everything.
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