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1961 British Guiana general election

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1961 British Guiana general election

← 1957 21 August 1961 1964 →

35 seats in the Legislative Assembly
18 seats needed for a majority
Turnout220,125 (89.44%)
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Cheddi Jagan Forbes Burnham Peter D'Aguiar
Leader since 1 January 1950 13 February 1955 5 October 1960
Leader's seat Corentyne - East Ruimveldt Georgetown Central
Seats won
20 / 35
11 / 35
4 / 35
Seat change 11 7 New
Popular vote 93,085 89,501 35,771
Percentage 42.63% 40.99% 16.38%

Premier before election

Cheddi Jagan

Elected Premier

Cheddi Jagan

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
 Guyana portal

General elections were held in British Guiana on 21 August 1961.[1] The result was a victory for the People's Progressive Party, which won 20 of the 35 seats.

1961 British Guiana general election Intro articles: 21

Electoral system

The elections were the first to be held under the 1961 constitution, which had created a bicameral Legislature with an appointed Senate and an elected Legislative Assembly. The 36 members of the Legislative Assembly included 35 members elected in single-member constituencies and the Speaker, who was elected by the other members.[2] The 13 members of the Senate included eight nominated by the ruling party, three by the opposition and two by the Governor.

1961 British Guiana general election Electoral system articles: 4


A total of 98 candidates contested the elections. The PPP ran 29 candidates, the People's National Congress 35 and the United Force 34.[3]

1961 British Guiana general election Campaign articles: 2


Party Votes % Seats +/–
People's Progressive Party 93,085 42.63 20 +11
People's National Congress 89,501 40.99 11 +7
United Force 35,771 16.38 4 New
Invalid/blank votes 1,768
Total 220,125 100 35 +21
Registered voters/turnout 246,120 89.44
Source: GECOM

Following the election, the People's National Congress (PNC) were allocated two of the Senate seats reserved for the opposition, with one given to the United Force. The PNC claimed they should have been given all three seats, and its members attempted to block Governor Richard Luyt from entering the Legislature for its ceremonial opening on 6 October, requiring the police to remove them.[4]

Overview of "Richard Luyt" article


Although the PPP had only received 1.6% more of the vote than the new People's National Congress, it had won almost double the number of seats. This resulted in mass demonstrations led by the PNC, a general strike and severe inter-racial violence. After a few weeks the British authorities intervened by sending in troops and the Governor declared a state of emergency.[1] Following these events, the country's electoral system was changed to use proportional representation. The first elections held under the new system took place in 1964.[1]

1961 British Guiana general election Aftermath articles: 3


  1. ^ a b c Nohlen, D (2005) Elections in the Americas: A data handbook, Volume I, p355 ISBN 978-0-19-928357-6
  2. ^ Historical information events and dates on the Parliament of Guyana from 1718 to 2006 Parliament of Guyana
  3. ^ 1961 Elections Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine GECOM
  4. ^ Brewing anti-PPP challenges in 1961 Guyana.org