United Future New Zealand
United Future New Zealand is a political party in the New Zealand parliament with eight MPs-- seven list MPs, and one electorate MP, leader Peter Dunne (see MMP for the difference). It currently has an agreement to support the Labour-Progressive coalition government in matters of confidence and supply.
United Future was formed to contest the 2002 election from the merger of centrist party United New Zealand and Christian-dominated conservative Future New Zealand. United, originally formed as a centrist party by a group of moderate Labour Party and National Party MPs, held one seat in parliament. Future New Zealand, which was not represented in parliament, was a "secularised" evolution of the Christian Democrats, following the same basic principles as the Christian Democrats, but abandoning the explicit religious connection.
Some cynical commentators have said that the merger was more of a take over, with the (arguably unelectable fundamentalist) Christian-dominated party, which had previously failed to reach the five per cent MMP threshold, seeking an entry into Parliament via the security of Peter Dunne's electorate seat. In the 1999 election United gained 0.5% of the vote but Peter Dunne won his electorate seat, while Future gained 1.1% of the vote.
United Future's party president, Inky Tulloch has stated that "United Future isn't a Christian party - it's a political party that has a lot of Christians in it, and a lot of non-Christians." Tulloch says that the "universal principles of family, of common sense, of looking after one another, of compassion, integrity" are equally valuable to both Christians and non-Christians. Critics of the party, however, claim that the party's refusal to call itself Christian is merely a branding exercise, with the party not wanting to limit its appeal.
Most of United Future's MPs were elected in an astonishing last-week election turn around that saw votes lost by both the Labour and Green parties, who were engaged in a public squabble over genetic engineering. However, the party suffered a minor embarrassment when one of its list MPs, Kelly Chal, was forced to give up her seat after it was disclosed that she wasn't a citizen of New Zealand at the time of the election.
United Future has recently been vigorously opposing a bill that would enable civil unions. This would grant same-sex couples (and also mixed-sex couples who choose not to marry) many of the same rights as married couples.
In mid 2004 United Future announced they would contest the 2005 general election in partnership with Outdoor Recreation New Zealand. Cynics pointed out that here was another minor party that failed to reach the 5% threshold (Outdoor Recreation gained 1.28% of the vote in the 2002 election) seeking parliamentary representation via the security of Peter Dunne's electorate seat.
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