Path: Table of Contents > Essay on Party Politics > Party 032
New Zealand Labour Party, 032
Variables and Codes for 1950-1962
For the concepts and variables below, use these links to Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey:
Governmental Status
Issue Orientation
Goal Orientation
Organizational Complexity
Organizational Power
Organizational Coherence
Membership Involvement
The "ac" code is for "adequacy-confidence"--a data quality measure ranging from 0 (low) to 9 (high)

Institutionalization Variables, 1.01-1.06
1.01 year of origin and 1.02 name changes
1916, AC9
0, AC9
The New Zealand Labour Party was founded in 1916 at a joint conference attended by delegates from the United Federation of Labour, the Social Democratic Party, and Labour Representation Committees, plus labour- backed members of parliament. This meeting followed an earlier Unity Conference in 1913 which established the United Federation of Labour and the Social Democratic Party, which had resulted from a merger of the Socialist Party and the (non-socialist) United Labour Party. The 1913 alliance of militant and moderate factions within the labour movement did not last, and the 1916 meeting reforged the union, with the militants grudgingly accepting parliamentary participation as the primary strategy. There is evidence that the old Social Democrats had a majority on the first Executive Committee, but enough activists from the other organizations seem to have been involved in the new organization to consider it as more than just a continuation of the Social Democratic Party under a new name. The party's name did not change since its inception.
1.03 organizational discontinuity
1, AC6
Lee was expelled from the party in 1940, and after that point he formed the short-lived Democratic Labour Party, which attracted several of Lee's followers away from the Labour Party. Since the split is mentioned by only a couple of authors, and since we have no record of other discontinuities in organizations, the adequacy-confidence code of 6 seems appropriate.
1.04 leadership competition
11, AC8
The Labour Party featured three positions which might be considered the national leadership positions--the President, the National Secretary, and the leader of the parliamentary party. The leader of the parliamentary party is usually considered the effective leader of the party, especially when it is in power. This post changed hands in 1950, when Walter Nash was elected parliamentary leader following the death of Peter Frasure, former leader and former prime minister. Nash served as leader of the opposition for all but 1957-60, when he was prime minister. The leader of the Labour Party is chosen by the parliamentary delegation, always less than 100 in number.
1.05 legislative instability
Instability is .08, AC8
The Labour Party held its lowest legislative representation from 1951-53 with 38 percent of the seats, and its highest representation from 1957-59 with 51 percent of the seats.
1.06 electoral instability
Instability is .04, AC9
Legislative elections were held in 1951, 1954, 1957, and 1960. The Labour Party's proportion of votes won ranged between 43 percent in 1960 and 48 percent in 1957.

Governmental Status Variables, 2.01-2.07
 2.01 government discrimination
1 for 1950-62, AC7
At least four sources indicate that the electoral system discriminates against all third parties in the same manner. However, the question of discrimination arises with regard to the free and equal access of all parties to the mass media. Hence an AC of 7.
2.02 governmental leadership
0 out of 7 for 1950-56, AC9
3 out of 6 for 1957-62, AC9
Parliamentary elections are held every 3 years. The Labour Party won only one election during our time period, that in 1957. No sources disagree with that.
2.03cabinet participation
0 out of 7 for 1950-56, AC9
3 out of 6 for 1957-62, AC9
The party participated in the cabinet only during its years of governmental leadership.
2.04 national participation
6, AC6
There are no explicit references to the geographical orientation of the Labour Party, but many sources suggest that support is rather uniform nationally.
2.05 legislative strength
Strength is .41 for 1950-56, AC7 and .46 for 1957-62, AC9
The Labour Party held its lowest legislative representation from 1951-53 with 38 percent of the seats, and its highest representation from 1957-59 with 51 percent of the seats.
2.06 electoral strength
Strength is .45 for 1950-56, AC9 and .45 for 1957-62, AC8
Legislative elections were held in 1951, 1954, 1957, and 1960. The Labour Party's proportion of votes won ranged between 43 percent in 1960 and 48 percent in 1957.
2.07 outside origin
8, AC9
Although some labour-backed members of parliament were instrumental in forming the New Zealand Labour Party, it is clear that the impetus for the party came from labour organizations outside of parliament.

Issue Orientation Variables, 5.01-5.15
 5.01 ownership of means of production
1, AC5
The Labour Party favors government regulation of the means of production, but does not favor ownership as such. The party platform in 1951 and again in 1955 expressed a strong belief in private enterprise but said that it requires much government control.
5.02 government role in economic planning
3, AC9
The Labour Party favors an active government role in the development of the economy, as shown by controls over businesses, price controls where necessary, and the policy of lower interest rates and returning the bank profits to the state.
5.03 redistribution of wealth
1, AC5
The Labour Party wants to ensure the just distribution of the production and services of New Zealand. It also wants to raise family allowances and have tax rebates for wage and salary earners. It believes in adherence to the principles of cooperation and socialism.
5.04 social welfare
5, AC8
The Labour Party does advocate universally available social welfare through a compulsory program of public assistance. It provides free medical services, increased child allowances, free textbooks, and social security increases.
5.05 secularization of society
-3, AC5
The Labour Party advocates giving state aid to the roman catholic church schools. The party also shows a benevolent attitude toward religion, for it draws a lot of support from Catholics. This is of interest because studies have shown a definite correlation between religion and voting behavior in New Zealand.
5.06 support of the military
1, AC3
Nothing in the literature described the Labour Party as against support of the armed forces or any proposal for reductions in military expenditures. However, there was also no stress put on the armed forces in the literature so it was inferred that the code would be 1.
5.07 alignment with east-west blocs
-5, AC6
Since the cold war, the Labour Party has been very unfriendly to the communist countries and did not recognize red China when in control of the government. Labour's policies are closely aligned with those of Britain, and the country has accepted economic aid from the U.S.
5.08 anti-colonialism
1, AC5
The party strongly supports Great Britain at all times and accepts loans freely from London. However, there is a movement to reduce foreign influence in the economy by restoring import controls.
5.09 supranational integration
0, AC5
The Labour Party strongly supported the Colombo Plan but did not envisage supranational organizations in the pacific area. But it should also be noted that Labour supported the United Nations very strongly.
5.10 national integration
1, AC5
Labour believes in a centralization of authority and advocates dominance of national authority structures and symbols. Yet, they recognize other groups through legislation, as in legislation for the farm group.
5.11 electoral participation
5, AC9
There was universal manhood suffrage in 1879, and women got the vote in 1893. Maoris got universal manhood suffrage even earlier, in 1867. The Labour Party advocates maintaining this.
5.12 protection of civil rights
4, AC5
The Labour Party has championed the interests of the ethnic minority maoris, who have repaid the party through strong support in elections, with the four maori seats considered safe labour seats. However, Labour has not been so favorable toward the immigration of asiatics to New Zealand.
5.13 interference with civil liberties
No information.
5.14 / 5.15 US--Soviet experts left-right ratings
U.S. says, 3, non-communist left.
Soviets say, 3, social reform party, democratic socialism.

Goal Orientation Variables, 6.01-6.55
 6.00 open competition in the electoral process
4, AC9
In all the material indexed for this variable, it was quite clear that the Labour Party relies exclusively on open competition in the electoral process to gain seats in the government.
6.10 restricting party competition
0, AC9
There was a lot of material indexed for this variable and there was no mention of the Labour Party ever attempting to restrict party competition. Open competition is the accepted method of gaining governmental power.
6.20 subverting the political system
0, AC9
In the material indexed for this variable there was no mention of the Labour Party ever having attempted to subvert the electoral process.
6.30 propagandizing ideas and program
6.31--1, AC5. The Labour Party has a newspaper and thus does operate mass communication media.
6.32--0, AC5. Labour has made virtually no effort to develop weekend schools, or the equivalent of party schools.
6.33--2, AC9. The party is very active in passing resolutions and platforms.
6.34--2, AC9. The party also published numerous position papers.
6.50 providing for welfare of party members
6.51, 6.52--0, AC9, and 6.54, 6.55--0, AC5. None of these services appear to be performed by the Labour Party.
6.53--2, AC5. One of the main tasks of the party president was to assist people in favors and advice. This seems to have been a common practice.

Autonomy Variables, 7.01-7.05
7.01 sources of funds
4 (sectors 01, 04), AC7
Labor unions are the most reliable source of income. Membership dues are also a source. Labour Party also enjoys the support of some business groups.
7.02 source of members
2 (sector 01), AC7
Trade unions supply the indirect members of the party. One can also become a member through direct application to a branch of the party organization. Eighty per cent of the members are indirect.
7.03 sources of leaders
4 (sectors 01, 03), AC4
Frasure had been a unionist, but his successor Nash had not. Moreover, only about 1/4 of the MPs were working class. Teachers and other professionals also became well represented.
7.04 relations with domestic parties
7, AC9
Usually the opposition party in a two party system during our period, Labour had no encumbering relationships with other parties.
7.05 relations with foreign organizations
3, AC6
The party became a member of the Socialist International in 1952 and retained its membership throughout our time period.

Organizational Complexity Variables, 8.01-8.07
 8.01 structural articulation
10, AC7
Apart from the annual conference, the central organs are the National Executive, the parliamentary party organization, and a Central Executive made up of a president, vice-president, secretary-treasurer and five members elected by the conference. The rest of the Central Executive is elected by the geographical localities. Central Executive has four committees-- finance, organization, publicity, and administration.
8.02 intensiveness of organization
4, AC7
The Labour Party's branches were all in urban areas. Branch membership declined in the 1950's. Trade union affiliates are also at this level of organization.
8.03 extensiveness of organization
5, AC7
One can be a Labour Party member either individually or indirectly through the trade unions. Direct membership is obtained on the branch level. There are six hundred of these branches.
8.04 frequency of local meetings
6, AC8
Branches must meet at least once a month.
8.05 frequency of national meetings
6, AC7
The full national executive council meets four times a year while the central executive meets monthly.
8.06 maintaining records
12, AC7
The Labour Party publishes party propaganda, maintains some sort of archive, and keeps accurate membership lists.
8.07 pervasiveness of organization
13, AC7
Heavy union affiliation and heavy maori affiliation.

Organizational Power Variables, 9.01-9.08
 9.01 nationalization of structure
4, AC5
Most power rests in the parliamentary party and not in the extra parliamentary structure, although the annual conference is supposed to have supreme power.
9.02 selecting the national leader
4, AC8
Labour has a caucus meeting every three years to select the party leader. The caucus is a meeting of the parliamentary members of the party.
9.03 selecting parliamentary candidates
5, AC5
Nominations for the parliamentary candidates are public. They have to be signed by six members in the electorate. Selection is made by a panel of six--three representatives resident in the electorate appointed by the Labour Representation Committee and three members appointed by the National Executive Committee.
9.04 allocating funds
5, AC5
Labour is financed by the trade unions, both locally and nationally. Branch members also pay a fee to the national executive.
9.05 formulating policy
6, AC8
The caucus makes policy decisions. The caucus is composed of parliamentary party members.
9.06 controlling communications
4, AC5
All of the main daily newspapers are supportive of the National Party.
9.07 administering discipline
3, AC7
If a backbencher criticizes the party leaders very much, he weakens his chances of promotion to the cabinet. Members are allowed to speak against the party line, but never to vote against it. Dissident members may fail to receive renomination. The caucus is concerned with party discipline.
9.08 leadership concentration
2, AC5
While the National Party believes in the individual leadership role of the party leader, the Labor Party believes more in collective leadership with power divided between the spokesmen for the parliamentary party, the conference, and the executive, with the parliamentary leader admittedly the most important.

Coherence Variables, 10.01-10.06
 10.01 legislative cohesion
.95, AC7
The party is virtually completely cohesive as it appears on the floor of the house.
10.02 ideological factionalism
2, AC5
Finlay and Wilson tried to rally support for socialism in the fifties and early sixties, but never received much support from within the party. In 1955, there was a small group of the parliamentary party members who wanted to introduce a policy which was variant from that of the national line--a more friendly approach toward the eastern powers. Besides these specific examples, there has generally been a high level of consensus within the party.
10.03 issue factionalism
2, AC7
In 1955, a small group desired a more friendly approach towards the east. Between 1949 and 1957, issues of price controls, employment, and social security legislation caused some factionalism. There has been some disagreement over the disciplining of left-wing unions. In 1961-62, the old guard still tended towards a more orthodox socialism.
10.04 leadership factionalism
0, AC8
The slow turnover in Labour Party leaders has virtually eliminated leadership factionalism.
10.05 strategic or tactical factionalism
1, AC3
There is no specific information on this variable, but the code is inferred from the general information on the party.
10.06 party purges
0, AC6
No mass expulsions occurred in the party.

Involvement Variables, 11.01-11.06
11.01 membership requirements
3, AC7
Members must pay dues. The lowest form of party organization, the branch, must have at least ten members who have paid the necessary membership dues.
11.02 membership participation
1, AC7
Branch activity has been low since 1950. It has been increasingly difficult to get the members to participate in party activities.
11.03 material incentives
0, AC8
Reward for service is some influence over party policy.
11.04 purposive incentives
1, AC5
A number of the militants are connected with the trade unions and want legislation which will favor them, thus they work hard for the party.
11.05 doctrinism
1, AC8
The party's constitution embodies its doctrines. The allusions to it were not great, but one is always aware that it exists.
11.06 personalism
0, AC6
One sample mentioned a distrust of the party leaders by the membership , along with a distrust of the membership by the leaders. Motivation of militants by personalism probably would not occur in such an environment.