United New Zealand

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image:UnitedNewZealandLogo.png
United New Zealand logo
 

This article is about the party founded in 1995. There has also been a United Party, founded in 1927 from remnants of the former Liberal Party.

United New Zealand was a centrist political party in New Zealand. It eventually merged with another party to form the modern United Future New Zealand group.

United was founded in the middle of 1995, one of a number of new parties hoping to capitalize on the upcoming switch to the MMP electoral system. It was intended to be a centrist party, encompassing moderate voters from both the centre-left and the centre-right. The party was established by four MPs from the National Party, two MPs from the Labour Party, and former Labour MP Peter Dunne, who had already established his own party, Future New Zealand (not to be confused with the party of the same name which United later merged with). The party was led by Clive Matthewson, a former Labour MP.

The MPs who established United were:

The party, while initially attracting interest, performed poorly. The party's policies were dismissed by many commentators as unfocused, containing many generalities but few detailed plans. In addition, Matthewson, while charismatic, was seen by many as an intellectual light-weight. When United entered into a coalition with the governing National Party in 1996, securing a Cabinet post for Peter Dunne, many commentators claimed that the party had abandoned its centrist stance. United, by contrast, claimed that a deal with National would allow United to moderate National's more extreme tendencies.

In the 1996 election, United performed poorly. Peter Dunne was the only United MP to retain his seat, with all others being ejected from Parliament. Clive Matthewson, whose seat had been abolished in the change to MMP, placed fourth in his new electorate. As the party's only surviving MP, Peter Dunne became leader of United.

In the 1999 election, United's share of the vote declined even further, but Dunne managed to retain his electorate seat. Later, however, United decided to merge with another political party, Future New Zealand (not to be confused with Peter Dunne's party before United was formed). Future New Zealand, the secularised remnants of the old Christian Democrats, was not represented in parliament. The merged party adopted the name United Future New Zealand, and has since improved its fortunes considerably.

Template:Historic New Zealand political parties

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