Farmer-Labor party

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Farmer-Labor party,

in U.S. history, political organization composed of agrarian and organized labor interests. Formed in 1919 as the National Labor party, it changed its name at its 1920 presidential nominating convention in order to appeal to farmers. The party's platform called for the public ownership of railroads, utilities, and natural resources; an end to private banking; and the nationalization of unused land. The convention resisted the efforts of former Progressives to nominate Robert La Follette and instead chose as its candidate Parley P. Christensen. The party made a poor showing in the 1920 election; its main strength lay in the states of Washington, Montana, and South Dakota. In 1923, Communists gained control of the party, and in the following year it joined other dissident groups in the Conference for Progressive Political Action, which supported the presidential candidacy of La Follette. After the 1924 election, the party passed out of existence. Meanwhile, representatives of the Nonpartisan League in Minnesota, along with various labor unions, had entered a slate of candidates for state elections in 1918 and 1920 under the name of Farmer-Labor party. Remaining aloof from the national party of the same name, it established a permanent party structure in 1922. It quickly became a powerful political force in Minnesota, electing Henrik Shipstead and Magnus Johnson to the U.S. Senate and Floyd B. OlsonOlson, Floyd Bjornstjerne
, 1891–1936, American lawyer and politician, b. Minneapolis. In his early life he was an itinerant laborer and for a time belonged to the Industrial Workers of the World. He studied law at the Univ.
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 to the governorship. It also won many local elections. At first the party agitated for government ownership of industry, but in the 1930s it came to support Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal programs. In 1944 it merged with the Minnesota Democratic party, where it remains a part of the official party name.


See S. A. Rice, Farmers and Workers in American Politics (1924, repr. 1969).

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References in periodicals archive ?
The Farmer-Labor Party hoped to put in place a system with promajoritarian partisan bias and high responsiveness, which would allow it to take full advantage of its predicted strong support in the electorate.
Redistricting became a struggle over whether the new plan would allow the Farmer-Labor Party to translate its predicted majority vote share into a large seat share in the congressional delegation.
(76) Furthermore, while the Farmer-Labor Party was popular, its congressional candidates would lack the name recognition and other advantages of incumbency enjoyed by the sitting Republican congressmen in their districts.
This outcome allowed the Farmer-Labor Party to swiftly express the state's new partisan alignment in Congress.
(148) The Farmer-Labor Party explicitly sought to use the new system to its advantage.
The Farmer-Labor Party garnered 38% of the popular vote and 56% of the seat share, (152) for a partisan bias of 18%.
So although the Farmer-Labor Party won 38% of total votes cast for all candidates, it did not get all of the votes of 38% of the people, but rather less than all of the votes from more than 38% of the voters.
The Farmer-Labor Party's vote share increased only 2.1%, from 35.7% in 1930 to 37.8% in 1932, but its seat share increased from only 10% to a majority of 56%.
Yet, despite the fact that the Farmer-Labor Party was able to enact the redistricting plan it proposed, the plan failed to deliver any promajoritarian benefits to the Farmer-Labor Party.
The Farmer-Labor Party's failure to enact a promajoritarian plan, despite its structural advantages, likely resulted from a set of political constraints.
In addition to these political constraints, the 1933 redistricting plan may also have served the Farmer-Labor Party so poorly because Farmer-Labor negotiators simply miscalculated, believing that the plan would be more beneficial to their partisans than it ultimately was.
(184) Republican Congressman William Pittenger noted Congressman Kvale's opposition to at-large elections, despite the benefit of such elections to the Farmer-Labor Party. He sent a telegram labeled "Confidential" to an ally whom he urged to visit the governor and lobby for a special session to pass a new redistricting bill before the election.