Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Futility of the 'Christian Parties'

So the results are in for the 2008 election. As it was looking throughout the campaign, National are in control of the country and the reign of Helen is over after 9 years. Well done John Key. He has a tough job, the economy is not in a good state and so, leading this nation, blown hither and thither on the winds of the world powers will be a challenge. Here's hoping that they can manage the economy well through this time and that they can build a stronger NZ.

What really interested me was the performance of the 'Christian' parties.

Here is a little table comparing their election night performances (these are not final, but the scene will not change that much):

National Party 951,145 45.45
Labour Party 706,666 33.77
Green Party 134,622 6.43
ACT New Zealand 77,843 3.72
Mäori Party 46,894 2.24
Jim Anderton's Progressive 19,536 0.93
United Future 18,629 0.89
New Zealand First Party 88,072 4.21
Kiwi Party 11,659 0.56
The Bill and Ben Party 10,738 0.51
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party 7,589 0.36
New Zealand Pacific Party 6,991 0.33
Family Party 6,973 0.33
Alliance 1,721 0.08
Democrats for Social Credit 1,112 0.05
Libertarianz 1,070 0.05
Workers Party 824 0.04
RAM - Residents Action Movement 405 0.02
The Republic of New Zealand Party 298 0.01

It is disputable that United Future should be listed as a 'Christian' party but even they were fortunate to get one seat, with Peter Dunne only just holding onto his seat. However, I will include this in the discussion.

If we add up the 'Christian' parties including United Future, we have this result:
Overall 'Christian Party' 44252 2.10
With Peter Dunne in Parliament, such a result would get 3 members into parliament total. Now 3 might be seen as a good result for the supporters of these parties. They could hold the balance of power and work in a government, their voice being effective in influencing the political situation.
If we look at these results, the 'Bill and Ben' party and worse, the Legalise Cannabis party, did better than two of these parties. I do not want to disparage the integrity, hard work and genuine Christian commitment and desire to change NZ toward Christian morality; however, sure this is an appalling result. Come on! That means that more people want to see people smoke the weed than see NZ with good family values. I would have thought such a result would make these Christians want to rethink their political strategy. I have said as much earlier in this blog, and I remain convinced I am correct.

One of those parties is related to Destiny Church. About 5 or so years ago it was prophesied that this church/party would take over NZ in 5 years. This was their moment. They have failed to do so. This was a false prophecy I should imagine? It is time for them to realise the reality of their situation.

Surely, it is time to realise that, while MMP does enable Christians to cluster and fight elections in this way, it is not working with the fragmentation and marginalisation of the Christian vote. The vast majority of the votes cast by these 'Christian' parties, while perhaps a blessing to God, were an absolute political waste, they achieved nothing politically. Those cast for Peter Dunne were effective, getting him into Parliament. Those cast for the remainder of these 4 parties are now consigned to the bin of political history. They did not affect the election result, except to make it easier for the main parties to continue to dominate. The main parties results were not leavened by the Christian vote from these. Every vote for these parties aside from those for Peter Dunne was effectively a wasted vote.

Christians need to get educated about how the system works. Unless your party has a great chance of an electorate seat, or can get 5%, in the current system, you achieve nothing politically.

As such, I think it is time for us Christians to think about how we work in the political system. We need to change our approach. The current approach marginalises and renders impotent the Christian voice. The Christians are nicely confined away from the major political processes and then their votes are wasted.

There seem to me to be two better approaches.
1. Work within the main political parties: Christians get more and more involved with the good old Christian principle of servanthood in the major parties and work to see good candidates elected, and for the Christian principles to leaven their policies. This is the approach I would strongly favour. We need to work in the long-term, do the hard yards, learn the lessons of the political process, and seek to change the world from the inside out.
2. Work together as one Christian 'pan-party'. At least in this way Christians might be able to get their voice into the coalition government speaking for family and Christian values. I think there is value in this approach. However, this to me further marginalises and isolates the Christian vote.

The failure of 'Christian' parties to work together is for a major turn off. The well publicised splits reinforce the disunity of Christians in this nation.

My hope is that this result will lead to a change of strategy among Christians. We are called to transform from within and in unity. Let us do so.

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