Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
New Zealand general election 1935
The 1935 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the New Zealand Parliament's 25th term . It resulted in the Labour Party's first electoral victory, with Michael Joseph Savage becoming the first Labour Prime Minister. The governing coalition, consisting of the United Party and the Reform Party, suffered a major defeat, attributed by many to their handling of the Great Depression. The year after the election, United and Reform took their coalition further, merging to form the modern National Party.
Since 1931, New Zealand had been governed by a coalition of the United Party and the Reform Party. United and Reform had traditionally been enemies — United was a revival of the old Liberal Party, a progressive party with a strong urban base, while Reform was a conservative party with a strong rural base. When the 1928 elections left United and Reform with an equal number of seats, United managed to obtain support from the growing Labour Party, but in 1931, the worsening depression prompted a dispute over economic policy, and Labour withdrew its backing. Reform then agreed to go into coalition with United, fearing that an election would lead to significant gains for the "socialistic" Labour. The coalition held on to power in the 1931 elections, but the ongoing economic troubles made the government deeply unpopular, and by the time of the 1935 elections, Labour's support was soaring.
The date for the main 1935 elections was 27 November, a Wednesday. Elections to the four Maori seats were held the day before. 919,798 people were registered to vote, and there was a turnout of 90.8%. This turnout was considerably higher than for the turnout in the previous election, but still about average for the time period. The number of seats being contested was 80, a number which had been fixed since 1902.
The 1935 election saw a massive win for the opposition Labour Party, which won fifty-three seats. The governing coalition won only nineteen. This difference was not so great in the popular vote, however, with Labour winning 46.1% to the coalition's 32.9%. Many commentators blamed the coalition's failure to win seats on vote splitting by the Democrat Party, an "anti-socialist" group founded by a former organiser for the coalition. The Democrats won 7.8% of the vote, but no seats. Apart from Labour and the coalition, the only two groups to win places in Parliament were the Country Party and the Ratana movement, both of which gained two seats. Four independents were elected.
|Party||Candidates||Total votes||Percentage||Seats won|
|United Party / Reform Party||?||?||32.9%||19|
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