Kiwi Party and Christian Politics

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.

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4 responses to “Kiwi Party and Christian Politics

  1. Just a couple of nitpicks 🙂

    1) I’m pretty sure Larry Baldock is leader of the Family Party.

    2) It’s worth figuring in the division between evangelical and traditional Christianity. Copeland is, as far as I know, Catholic not evangelical, but the majority of non-parliamentary party politically active Christians are evangelical (like Baldock).

    3) I reckon unless the threshhold is lowered we won’t get a Christian party in parliament unless they win an electorate seat. Neither Baldock nor Copeland have a hope, so it’s dependant on peeling a Christian with a strong majority off (probably) National and reforming around them.

  2. Either I’m one of the two or you have three 😀

    Here’s a hypothetical… all the attempts at forming a Christian party to date have aimed at the ground to the right of National.

    Labour is looking desperate for coalition partners (Progressives and Fut… Unite… Peter Dunne’s Vanity both down to one and sure to disappear when their leaders keel over, Greens not holding an electorate and just floating above 5%, the Maori Party unpredictable at best, hostile at worst).

    So how well supported would a social-justice focused left-leaning Christian party be received by the electorate? And by Labour?

  3. Hi, nice blog. Will you be covering the Mt Albert byelection? Bill and Ben and Kiwi have announced that they will run.

    • francoisbagkus

      Thanks, yes that would be a fantastic idea actually. I might do a blog post up in the near future of all the micro-parties that have declared.

      Regards,
      Francisco Hernandez

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