Number Of Elections Won By Each Australian Prime Minister

As of 2016, there have been 45 federal elections in Australia.

Sir Robert Menzies holds the record for the greatest number of election victories – eight – during his two terms as prime minister.

Two other prime ministers – Bob Hawke and John Howard – each won four elections.

Two prime ministers – Malcolm Fraser and Joseph Lyons – each won three elections in their own right.

Five prime ministers – Alfred Deakin, Andrew Fisher, William Morris Hughes, Stanley Bruce and Gough Whitlam – each won two elections in their own right.

Single elections have been won by twelve prime ministers: Edmund Barton, Joseph Cook, James Scullin, John Curtin, Ben Chifley, Harold Holt, John Gorton, Paul Keating, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull.

Seven prime ministers – George Reid, Chris Watson, Arthur Fadden, Earle Page, John McEwen, Frank Forde and William McMahon – failed to win a single election. Of these, only McMahon served more than a year and faced the electorate as prime minister, whilst Reid and Fadden faced the electorate as opposition leader. Page, Forde and McEwen were stop-gap prime ministers who filled the position after the deaths of the previous incumbents. Watson briefly held the prime ministership and faced the electorate as leader of the ALP.

Eleven crucial victories were achieved by ten prime ministers who took their parties from opposition into government at an election: Fisher (1910, 1914), Cook (1913), Scullin (1929), Lyons (1931), Menzies (1949), Whitlam (1972), Hawke (1983), Howard (1996), Rudd (2007) and Abbott (2013). Malcolm Fraser (1975) could be added to the list, but he had already become prime minister, courtesy of vice-regal intervention. In addition, the landslide victories of Billy Hughes (1917) and John Curtin (1943) were achieved after they had already become prime minister as a result of realignments in the House of Representatives.

The tables below show the number of elections won and lost by Australian prime ministers. Losses are only shown if the leader was Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition at the time of the election.

Note: * For the purposes of these tables, I have given “victory” in the 1922 election to Stanley Melbourne Bruce, on the basis that he became prime minister after the election. William Morris Hughes was the Nationalist Party PM going into the election. The party lost its majority and had to form a coalition with the Country Party to remain in power. The Country Party demanded Hughes’ resignation as their price for entering into a coalition agreement. Hughes resigned and Bruce was elected leader of the Nationalists and became prime minister. Accordingly, Hughes and Bruce each won two elections in their own right, with Bruce being the beneficiary of the 1922 election.

Number of Elections Won and Lost by Australian Prime Ministers
Election Victories Number of PMs Names
8
1
Menzies
4
2
Hawke, Howard
3
3
Bruce*, Lyons, Fraser
2
4
Deakin, Fisher, Hughes*, Whitlam
1
12
Barton, Cook, Scullin, Curtin, Chifley, Holt, Gorton, Keating, Rudd, Gillard, Abbott, Turnbull
0
7
Watson, Reid, Page, Fadden, Forde, McEwen, McMahon


Number of Elections Won and Lost by Australian Prime Ministers
No. Prime Minister Party Won Years Time as PM Lost Years
1.
Sir Robert Menzies
UAP
Liberal
8
1940, 1949, 1951, 1954, 1955, 1958, 1961, 1963
18 years, 5 months, 12 days
1
1946
2.
John Howard
Liberal
4
1996, 1998, 2001, 2004
11 years, 8 months, 22 days
2
1987, 2007
3.
Bob Hawke
ALP
4
1983, 1984, 1987, 1990
8 years, 9 months, 9 days
0
4.
Malcolm Fraser
Liberal
3
1975, 1977, 1980
7 years, 4 months
1
1983
5.
Joseph Lyons
UAP
3
1931, 1934, 1937
7 years, 3 months, 2 days
0
6.
Stanley Melbourne Bruce
Nationalist
3
(1922*), 1925, 1928
6 years, 8 months, 14 days
1
1929
7.
William Morris Hughes
Nationalist
2
1917, 1919, (1922*)
7 years, 3 months, 14 days
1
1922
8.
Alfred Deakin
Protectionist
2
1903, 1906
4 years, 10 months, 10 days
1
1910
9.
Andrew Fisher
ALP
2
1910, 1914
4 years, 9 months, 28 days
1
1913
10.
Gough Whitlam
ALP
2
1972, 1974
2 years, 11 months, 7 days
3
1969, 1975, 1977
11.
Ben Chifley
ALP
1
1946
4 years, 5 months, 7 days
1
1949
12.
Paul Keating
ALP
1
1993
4 years, 2 months, 20 days
1
1996
13.
John Curtin
ALP
1
1943
3 years, 8 months, 29 days
2
1937, 1940
14.
John Gorton
Liberal
1
1969
3 years, 2 months
0
15.
Julia Gillard
ALP
1
2010
3 years, 3 days
0
16.
Kevin Rudd
ALP
1
2007
2 years, 9 months, 12 days
1
2013
17.
Edmund Barton
Protectionist
1
1901
2 years, 8 months, 24 days
0
18.
James Scullin
ALP
1
1929
2 years, 2 months, 16 days
3
1928, 1931, 1934
19.
Tony Abbott
Liberal
1
2013
1 year, 11 months, 28 days
1
2010
20.
Harold Holt
Liberal
1
1966
1 year, 10 months, 23 days
0
21.
Malcolm Turnbull
Liberal
1
2016
2 years, 1 month, 7 days
0
22.
Joseph Cook
Liberal
1
1913
1 year, 2 months, 25 days
1
1914
23.
William McMahon
Liberal
0
1 year, 8 months, 25 days
1
1972
24.
George Reid
Free Trade
0
10 months, 18 days
2
1903, 1906
25.
Chris Watson
ALP
0
3 months, 21 days
0
26.
Arthur Fadden
Country
0
1 month, 9 days
1
1943
27.
John McEwen
Country
0
23 days
0
28.
Earle Page
Country
0
20 days
0
29.
Frank Forde
ALP
0
8 days
0



PARTY ABBREVIATIONS:
ALP = Australian Labor Party
Nationalist = Nationalist Party
UAP = United Australia Party
Liberal = Liberal Party
Country = Country Party
Free Trade = Free Trade Party / Anti-Socialist Party
Protectionist = Protectionist Party

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