I know that my loyal readers (yes, all 2 of you) have been getting Micro-Party Watch withdrawals so it’s high time for an update 😀 This week I’m looking at the Kiwi Party and Christian Politics in New Zealand
The Kiwi Party represents the archetypal effort at creating a viable ‘mainstream’ Christian party and attempting to sell it off to the New Zealand Public. It contains the critical elements – has been politicians trying to relive their glory days, a splinter from a much larger political party, failed mergers with parties sharing 99% of their platform, a single-issue campaign that fails to gain much traction and perhaps most importantly, grand delusions of grandeur and a bad case of the Napoleonic Complex.
Gordon Copeland formed the breakaway party in the aftermath of the “Anti-Smacking Bill” introduced by Sue Bradford. Along with Larry Baldock, he considered the deprivation of the ability to mack your kids in the forehead with a chain an anathema to his brand of “Christianity.” When he left on 17 May 2007, he dragged with him the uber-conservatives of Peter Dunne’s United Future Party and attempted to form a holy union with Brian Tamaki’s Destiny New Zealand, Taito-Philip Fields and the other various ‘Christian’ parties which promptly fell apart before the Conference had even finished (in fact before it had even started.)
These various ‘Christian,’ which ironically as a label, the Kiwi Party rejects contested the 2008 Election and polled around 2.5% (the combined totals of United Future, Kiwi Party, Family Party and the Pacific Party.) Interestingly, of the 4 parties, only United Future and the Kiwi Party have remained. Copeland has managed to remain as the leader of the Kiwi Party, having been elected as the President of the Board of the Kiwi Party. Interestingly enough, it seems that Copeland does have some media contacts with TVNZ running the story on their website and TV ONE News.
The story of Christian politics in New Zealand has been one of mostly failures, the parties that have explicitly branded themselves as “Christian” such as the Christian Coalition have regularly failed to cross the 5% threshold. It is a crowder market, with most mainstream Christians voting along mostly secular lines for the two major parties. The Christians who see social justice issues as a foremost concern tend to break for Labour (or Jim Anderton’s Progressives) whereas the Christians who see social issues such as gay marriage and abortion as the main issues tend to vote right wing.
Copeland has a chance to win the portion of Christians who do not vote for the parliamentary parties, the Family Party and the Pacific Party are currently showing no signs of life. A very good campaign, along with the right socio-economic conditions and a fading Dunne could see the Kiwi Party pull out a shock victory (getting into parliament counts as such) and enter Parliament. Far more unlikely things have happened anyway.