The Democrat Party was formed in 1934 and contested the 1935 election with 50 candidates, none of whom won a seat. The party was led by T. C. A. Hislop and organised by A. E. Davy, the former organiser for the Reform and United Parties. It amalgamated with the National Party in 1936.
The Democrats stood to the right of the Coalition parties, declaring in 1934 that “the Labour Party is Socialistic in policy, the present Government Socialistic by inclination, action and fact”. The party's programme in 1935, however, had a superficially progressive flavour. It promised to restore the unemployed to work at full normal wages, to restore Public Service wage cuts, and to reduce taxation, while at the same time proposing a national health and pensions scheme. The Democrats also promised to reduce the exchange rate and to guarantee farmers' export prices by means of a subsidy. This programme, although it promised much, was generally impracticable.
The Democrats were made up partly of that section of the United Party, particularly the urban members of Parliament, who were in disagreement with the Coalition's economic policies. This group was led by W. A. Veitch and A. J. Stallworthy, two former United ministers who had lost their posts when the Coalition was formed in 1931. Five other former United Party candidates and members of Parliament were Democrat candidates in 1935.
The Democrat Party polled a total of 65,662 votes, but although a number of candidates received strong support, none was elected. The party's main effect was to split the anti-Labour vote, resulting in the loss of a number of Coalition seats to the Labour Party.
by John Richard Sinclair Daniels, M.A., Local Government Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.