|Description||United Future New Zealand is a political party in the New Zealand parliament with eight MPs, seven MMP list MPs, and one electorate MP, leader Peter Dunne. |
United Future was formed to contest the 2002 election from the merger of liberal 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.
United Future has recently signalled its intention to vigorously oppose a bill that would enable civil unions between same-sex couples, granting them many of the same rights as married couples.