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Chart of the day: history gives incumbents the edge in upcoming by-elections


A lot of attention will be devoted to federal by-elections in coming weeks, but it could all be much ado about nothing.

Dual citizenship concerns have prompted four resignations (three Labor and one Central Alliance MP), while another Labor MP resigned for family reasons.

Of 27 by-elections in the past 25 years, all but four went to the incumbent.

So if history is a guide, Labor is not likely to lose this time around. An opposition has only lost two in the last 25 years, and neither of those were contested by the government of the day.

Going further back, an opposition has not lost a seat to a government at a by-election since 1920.

Chart showing that incumbent parties have rarely lost at by-elections over the past 25 yearsInfographic: By-elections are rarely lost by incumbent parties.
External Link: Chart of the day: By-election results over past 25 years

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