New Zealand general election, 1931

New Zealand general election, 1931
New Zealand general election, 1931
New Zealand
1928 ←
1 (Māori) & 2 December (general) 1931
→ 1935

All 80 seats in the New Zealand House of Representatives
41 seats were needed for a majority
Turnout 714,511 (83.3%)
  First party Second party
  Joseph Gordon Coates.jpg Harry Holland (1925).jpg
Leader Gordon Coates Harry Holland
Party Reform Labour
Alliance United/Reform

Leader since 1925 1919 (party formation)
Leader's seat Kaipara Buller
Last election 27 seats, 34.8% 19 seats, 26.2%
Seats won 28 24
Seat change increase 1 increase 5
Popular vote 396,004[note 1] 244,881
Percentage 55.4%[note 1] 34.3%
Swing -9.2%[note 1] increase 8.1%

  Third party Fourth party
  George William Forbes.jpg Harold Montague Rushworth (1920).jpg
Leader George William Forbes Harold Rushworth
Party United Country Party
Alliance United/Reform

Leader since 1925 1928
Leader's seat Hurunui Bay of Islands
Last election 27 seats, 29.8% 1 seat, 1.6%
Seats won 19 1
Seat change decrease 8 steady 0
Popular vote See note 16,710
Percentage See note 2.3%
Swing See note increase 0.7%

Prime Minister before election

George William Forbes

Prime Minister-Designate

George William Forbes

The 1931 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the New Zealand Parliament's 24th term. It resulted in the newly formed coalition between the United Party and the Reform Party remaining in office as the Liberal-Reform Government, although the opposition Labour Party made some minor gains.



In the 1928 elections, the United Party and the Reform Party had both won twenty-seven seats. The United Party managed to form a government, the United Government, with the support of the Labour Party, with governing Reform Party going into the opposition. In 1931, however, the agreement between United and Labour collapsed due to differing opinions on how to counter the Great Depression. The Reform Party, fearing that the Depression would give Labour a substantial boost, reluctantly agreed to form a coalition with United to avert elections. By forming a coalition, United and Reform were able to blunt Labour's advantage, ending the possibility of the anti-Labour vote being split.

The election

The date for the main 1931 elections was 2 December, a Wednesday. Elections to the four Maori seats were held the day before. 874,787 people were registered to vote, and there was a turnout of 83.3%. This turnout was below average for the time period. The number of seats being contested was 80, a number which had been fixed since 1902.[1]


Crowd on intersection of Willis and Mercer Streets, Wellington, outside the offices of the Evening Post, awaiting the results of the 1931 general election.

The 1931 election saw the governing coalition retain office as the Liberal-Reform Government, winning fifty-one seats. This was a drop of three seats from what the two parties had won in the previous elections, but was still considerably better than many had expected given the economic situation. The Labour Party won twenty-four seats, a gain of five. In the popular vote, the coalition won 55.4% of the vote, down from the 64.6% that the two parties had won previously. Labour won 34.3%. The only other party to gain a place in Parliament was the Country Party, which won a single seat. Four independents were elected.

Result of the 24th election to the New Zealand House of Representatives

For a list of Members of Parliament elected in 1931, see 24th New Zealand Parliament.

Party Leader Votes Percentage Seats won change
Reform Gordon Coates 396,004[note 1] 55.4 28 +1
United George William Forbes 19 -8
Independents (in support of Coalition) 4 +3
Labour Harry Holland 244,881 34.3 24 +5
Country Party Harold Rushworth 16,710 2.3 1 ±0
Independents (including Harry Atmore) 56,916 8.0 4 -1
Coalition win Total Votes 714,511 100% 80
  1. ^ Reform and United results are shown together, as well as those of four independents


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