United–Reform Coalition

Last updated

United-Reform Coalition
Leader George Forbes
Deputy Leader Gordon Coates
Founded September 1931
Dissolved 14 May 1936;82 years ago (14 May 1936)
Merger of United Party
Reform Party
Merged into National Party
Ideology Conservatism
Classical liberalism
Political position Centre-right

The United–Reform Coalition, also known as the National Political Federation from 1935, [1] was a coalition between two of the three major parties of New Zealand, the United and Reform parties, from 1931–1936. The Coalition formed the Government of New Zealand from its formation in September 1931, successfully contesting and winning the 1931 general election in December. The Coalition was defeated at the 1935 general election by Labour. The following year the coalition was formalised by the formation of the modern New Zealand National Party.

The term "coalition" is the denotation for a group formed when two or more people, factions, states, political parties, militaries etc. agree to work together temporarily in a partnership to achieve a common goal. The word coalition connotes a coming together to achieve a goal.

The United Party of New Zealand, a party formed out of the remnants of the Liberal Party, formed a government between 1928 and 1935, and in 1936 merged with the Reform Party to establish the National Party.

United–Reform coalition Government of New Zealand

The United–Reform coalition government of New Zealand was the government of New Zealand from 1931 to 1935. It was a coalition between two of the three major parties of the time, the United and Reform, formed to deal with the Great Depression which began in 1929. The Labour Party refused to join the coalition, as it believed that the only solution to the depression was socialism, which United and Reform did not support. Rather, they attempted to solve the country's economic problems by cutting public spending. This, the policy of making the unemployed do relief work for the unemployment benefit, and other cost-cutting policies, made the government the most unpopular of its era, and it was defeated in the 1935 election.

Contents

Primarily the coalition was formed to deal with the Great Depression which began in 1929. The Labour Party refused to join the coalition, as it believed that the only solution to the depression was socialism.

Great Depression 20th-century worldwide economic depression

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late-1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.

Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership of the means of production and workers' self-management, as well as the political theories and movements associated with them. Social ownership can be public, collective or cooperative ownership, or citizen ownership of equity. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them, with social ownership being the common element shared by its various forms.

History

Formation

The 1931 Cabinet:
Front row (L-R): Ransom, Coates, Forbes, Stewart, Ngata and Young.
Back row (L-R): Jones, Cobbe, Hamilton and Masters. NZ Coalition Cabinet of 1931.jpg
The 1931 Cabinet:
Front row (L-R): Ransom, Coates, Forbes, Stewart, Ngata and Young.
Back row (L-R): Jones, Cobbe, Hamilton and Masters.

The initial coalition between United and Reform had formed in September 1931, [2] following the collapse of an earlier coalition between United and Labour. Fearing that splitting the anti-Labour vote would result in a Labour government even if it received fewer votes than United and Reform combined, the two centre-right parties formed a coalition and an election agreement. Part of the agreement was that all sitting members who support the coalition would in turn receive the official endorsement as coalition candidate. This pragmatic decision caused trouble in those electorates where the voters were not satisfied with the incumbent's performance, for example in the Wairarapa and Otaki electorates. [3]

Wairarapa (New Zealand electorate) New Zealand electorate

Wairarapa is a New Zealand parliamentary electorate. It was first created in 1858 and existed until 1881. It was recreated in 1887 and has since existed continuously. In the early years, the electorate was for a time represented by two members. Wairarapa has been held by Alastair Scott since the 2014 election.

In the subsequent election, the coalition won 54.0% of the popular vote, compared to 34.3% for Labour.

Defeat

The government focused primarily on getting New Zealand out of the depression by cutting government spending and thus balancing the national budget. It dealt with widespread unemployment by initiating relief work, which involved compelling the unemployed to work on a range of projects ranging from useful public works to pointless activity. The government was widely seen as heartless, encapsulated by the commonly believed but probably untrue story that Prime Minister George Forbes had told a delegation of unemployed men to go and eat grass. In the 1935 election, Labour won 46.1% of the popular vote, while the coalition won only 32.9%. However the result in terms of seats was an electoral wipeout, with Labour winning 53 seats to the coalition's 16. A further eleven seats were won by minor parties and independents. Following their defeats, the United and Reform parties merged to become the National Party.

George Forbes (New Zealand politician) New Zealand politician

George William Forbes was a New Zealand politician who served as the 22nd Prime Minister of New Zealand from 28 May 1930 to 6 December 1935.

An electoral wipeout occurs when a major party receives far fewer votes or seats in a Legislature than their position justifies. It is the opposite of a landslide victory; the two frequently going hand in hand.

Electoral results

Election # of votes % of vote # of seats
won
Government/opposition?
1931 386,040 54.03
51 / 80
Government
1935 285,422 33.48
19 / 80
Opposition

See also

Notes and references

Citations

  1. Gustafson 1986, p. 4.
  2. "Coalition Announced". The New Zealand Herald . LXVIII (20982). 19 September 1931. p. 10. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  3. "Hints of Trouble". The Evening Post . CXII (106). 31 October 1931. p. 12. Retrieved 25 December 2014.

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References


Barry Selwyn Gustafson is a New Zealand political scientist and historian, and a leading political biographer. He served for nearly four decades as Professor of Political Studies at the University of Auckland, and as Acting Director of the New Zealand Asia Institute from 2004 to 2006. He has contested various general elections, first for the Labour Party and later for the National Party, coming second each time.

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The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.