Two main parties with new leaders hasn’t happened often

Idly reflecting this morning on the change in the leadership of the National Party, I started trying to work out how often the two main parties have both gone into a general election with a new leader.

The National Party was formed in 1936.  Here are the names of the leaders of the National and Labour parties at each election since then.

Main party leaders
Labour National
1938 Savage Hamilton
1943 Fraser Holland
1946 Fraser Holland
1949 Fraser Holland
1951 Nash Holland
1954 Nash Holland
1957 Nash Holyoake
1960 Nash Holyoake
1963 Nordmeyer Holyoake
1966 Kirk Holyoake
1969 Kirk Holyoake
1972 Kirk Marshall
1975 Rowling Muldoon
1978 Rowling Muldoon
1981 Rowling Muldoon
1984 Lange Muldoon
1987 Lange Bolger
1990 Moore Bolger
1993 Moore Bolger
1996 Clark Bolger
1999 Clark Shipley
2002 Clark English
2005 Clark Brash
2008 Clark Key
2011 Goff Key
2014 Cunliffe Key
2017 Little English

New leaders for both main parties hasn’t happened often.  The most recent previous occasion was 1975, and the  only other time before that was 1943.  On both occasions, the incumbent Prime Minister had died during the previous electoral term, and the opposition party (in both cases National) had experienced a thumping defeat at the previous election.

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