John Christian Watson (born John Christian Tanck; 9 April 1867 – 18 November 1941), commonly known as Chris Watson, was an Australian politician who served as the third Prime Minister of Australia.
He was the first Prime Minister from the Australian Labour Party, and led the world's first Labour Party government, indeed the world's first socialist or social democratic government, at a national level.
From paternal German and maternal British ancestry, he is the only Australian Prime Minister not born in a Commonwealth country.First elected to the Parliament of New South Wales seat of Young from the 1894 colonial election, Watson moved to the Parliament of Australia seat of Bland at the inaugural 1901 federal election following the Federation of Australia, where the state Labour parties received a combined 15.8% of the first past the post primary vote against the two more dominant parties.
The Caucus chose Watson as the inaugural parliamentary Labour leader on 8 May 1901, just in time for the first sitting of parliament.
Labour led by Watson increased their vote to 31% at the 1903 federal election and 36.6% at the 1906 federal election, the latter of which saw Watson move from his abolished seat of Bland to South Sydney.
Labour held the balance of power since 1901 and usually provided confidence and supply to the Protectionist Party governments of Edmund Barton and Alfred Deakin and frequently supported their legislation in exchange for Labour policy implementation.Watson's term as Prime Minister was brief – only four months, between 27 April and 18 August 1904.
The Watson Government did pass a handful of bills, but more importantly it set the precedent of a Labour Party Prime Minister.
He resigned as Labour leader in 1907 and from Parliament in 1910.
Labour led by Andrew Fisher would go on to win the 1910 federal election with over 50% of the primary vote, representing a number of firsts: it was Australia's first elected federal majority government; Australia's first elected Senate majority; the world's first Labour Party majority government at a national level; and after the 1904 Watson minority government, the world's second Labour Party government at a national level.According to Percival Serle, Watson "left a much greater impression on his time than this would suggest.
He came at the right moment for his party, and nothing could have done it more good than the sincerity, courtesy and moderation which he always showed as a leader".
Alfred Deakin wrote of Watson: "The Labour section has much cause for gratitude to Mr Watson, the leader whose tact and judgement have enabled it to achieve many of its Parliamentary successes".