United Party (New Zealand)

Last updated
United Party
Founded 1927
Dissolved 1936;82 years ago (1936)
Preceded by Liberal Party
Merged into National Party
Ideology Classical liberalism
Political position Centre-right
National affiliation United/Reform Coalition (1931–36)

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.

New Zealand Country in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.

The New Zealand Liberal Party was the first organised political party in New Zealand. It governed from 1891 until 1912. The Liberal strategy was to create a large class of small land-owning farmers who supported Liberal ideals, by buying large tracts of Māori land and selling it to small farmers on credit. The Liberal Government also established the basis of the later welfare state, with old age pensions, developed a system for settling industrial disputes, which was accepted by both employers and trade unions. In 1893 it extended voting rights to women, making New Zealand the first country in the world to enact universal female suffrage.

New Zealand National Party Major New Zealand political party

The New Zealand National Party, shortened to National or the Nats, is a centre-right political party in New Zealand. It is one of two major parties that dominate contemporary New Zealand politics, alongside its traditional rival, the New Zealand Labour Party.

Contents

Foundation

In the 1920s the Liberal Party, although previously dominant in New Zealand party politics, seemed in serious long-term decline following the advent of the Labour Party, and its organisation had decayed to the point of collapse. The United Party represented an unexpected resurgence of the Liberals, and some historians consider it nothing more than the Liberal Party under a new name. [1]

The New Zealand Labour Party, or simply Labour, is a centre-left political party in New Zealand. The party's platform programme describes its founding principle as democratic socialism, while observers describe Labour as social-democratic and pragmatic in practice. It is a participant of the international Progressive Alliance.

The United Party emerged from a faction of the decaying Liberal Party known as "the National Party" (not directly related to the modern National Party, although it may have inspired the name). George Forbes, a Liberal Party leader, led the faction. In 1927 Forbes joined with Bill Veitch (who led another faction of the Liberals, but who had once been involved with the labour movement) and with Albert Davy (a well-known and highly successful organiser for the Reform Party, the traditional opponent of the Liberals). They hoped that the United Party would draw support not only from former Liberals, but from moderates on either the right or left of the Liberals by promoting themselves as a safer alternative than the Labour Party. [1]

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.

Bill Veitch New Zealand politician

William Andrew Veitch was a New Zealand politician. He began his career in the labour movement, but was a strong opponent of socialism, and rejected the militant views held by many of his colleagues.

Albert Ernest Davy was a New Zealand political organiser and campaign manager; and at the height of his career, was regarded as one of the best in the country. He was a strong opponent of socialism, and spent most of his life fighting what he saw as socialist tendencies in New Zealand politics.

The new organisation adopted the name "the United Party". This reflected in shortened form the name of the "United New Zealand Political Organisation", which Davy had used after he had left Reform. Forbes and Veitch both contested the leadership, but eventually, Joseph Ward won the position. Although Ward, a former Liberal Prime Minister in 1906 - 1912, did not enjoy the best of health, Davy backed him as a compromise candidate.

Joseph Ward New Zealand politician

Sir Joseph George Ward of Wellington, 1st Baronet, was a New Zealand politician who served as the 17th Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1906 to 1912 and from 1928 to 1930. He was a dominant figure in the Liberal and United ministries of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Prime Minister of New Zealand head of the New Zealand government

The Prime Minister of New Zealand is the head of government of New Zealand. The incumbent Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, took office on 26 October 2017.

The reversal of the party fortunes came in Auckland, where the big business group abandoned the Reform Party because of the handling of a licensing bill, and put forward a programme equally appealing to the business community and to the remnants of the Liberal Party. So 42,000 votes and five seats went to United, compared with 8,800 votes and no seats in the previous election. [2]

Success

In the 1928 elections, the new United Party performed surprisingly well, winning twenty-seven seats. The Reform Party also had twenty-seven seats, the Labour Party had nineteen, the Country Party had one, and independents held six. The United Party formed a government with the backing of the Labour Party, and Ward became Prime Minister again. [1]

The Country Party of New Zealand was a political party which appealed to rural voters. It was represented in Parliament from 1928 to 1938. Its policies were a mixture of rural advocacy and social credit theory.

The United Party administration did not run particularly smoothly, however. Ward's ill health persisted, and by the time he finally resigned in 1930, George Forbes had effectively run the party for some time. Ward's deputy, George Forbes became Prime Minister after Ward's departure but faced serious economic problems, including the onset of the Great Depression. Forbes did not project an image of activity or leadership William Downie Stewart, Jr., finance spokesman for Reform, privately described Forbes as "apathetic and fatalistic", and suggested that although he had "a rotten job", Forbes was really simply marking time.

Coalition

In 1931 the United government passed a number of economic measures which appeared unfavourable to workers, and the Labour Party withdrew its support. The United Party continued in office with reluctant support from the Reform Party, which feared that a collapse of government (and thus a general election) would see large gains for Labour. Later the same year, formal coalition talks took place between United, Reform, and Labour, with a "unity government" proposed to counter the depression. Labour eventually walked out of the talks, but Reform leader Gordon Coates (pressed by Downie Stewart) eventually agreed to form a coalition between United and Reform. Forbes, backed by dissident members of Reform, won the leadership of the coalition government, but Downie Stewart of Reform became the Minister of Finance.

In the 1931 elections, the coalition worked in close co-operation and won fifty-one out of the eighty seats. United and Reform between them had held a few more seats before, but their combined tally exceeded what many had anticipated in light of the economic conditions. The government did not exhibit great stability, however particularly strong tensions arose between Coates and Downie Stewart, who clashed over the best response to the country's economic problems. Coates eventually won, and Stewart resigned. Coates, as the new Minister of Finance, became increasingly powerful, and the weary Forbes did not strongly oppose Coates's influence; while Forbes remained Prime Minister, Coates effectively led the government. The economic situation persisted.

In the 1935 elections, the coalition of United and Reform once again worked together. Anger at the country's ongoing economic problems remained high, however, and many saw Forbes and Coates as jointly responsible for the situation. In addition, Albert Davy had founded a new "anti-socialist" party, the Democrats, which took votes away from the coalition. Forbes, still the nominal leader of the coalition, appeared tired and apathetic. These factors all added up to a decisive defeat of the coalition by the Labour Party, and the appointment of Michael Joseph Savage as New Zealand's first Labour Prime Minister.

Merger

United and Reform, still in coalition and now holding only nineteen seats, went into opposition. In 1936 they decided to make the coalition permanent and to merge United and Reform into a single party. The new organisation took the name of "the National Party", and - along with Labour - became one of New Zealand's two dominant political parties from that point on. [3]

Parliamentary Leaders

Key:
  United   Reform    Labour
PM: Prime Minister LO: Leader of the Opposition

No.LeaderPortraitTermPositionPrime Minister
1 Joseph Ward Joseph Ward (15784132417).jpg 18 September 192828 May 1930LO1928 Coates
PM1928–1930Ward
2 George Forbes George William Forbes.jpg 28 May 1930May 1936PM1930–1935Forbes
LO1935–1936 Savage
United Party merged into National Party 1936.

Electoral results

Election# of votes% of vote# of seats
won
Government/opposition?
1928 225,04229.75
27 / 80
Coalition with Labour then Reform
1931 120,80116.90
19 / 80
Coalition with Reform
1935 285,422†33.48†
7 / 80
Opposition

Total Coalition vote.

Notes

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