A ground-breaking agreement between Christian-backed political parties is expected to have them throw their weight behind a new party in a concerted push to win seats in Parliament.
The agreement is understood to have been forged at a series of meetings arranged by senior church leaders with the Destiny Church-backed Destiny NZ Party, the new Gordon Copeland Future NZ Party and Mangere MP Phillip Field.
The behind-the-scenes discussions were aimed at striking an agreement to avoid splintering the Christian vote.
The first act is expected to be an announcement today by Destiny NZ that it is deregistering as a political party - even though political polls show it has gained traction among Christian voters.
In Saturday's Fairfax Media-Nielsen poll, Destiny polled at 1 per cent, the same as UnitedFuture and ACT.
But Destiny is expected to play a key role in a new Christian-backed political party, plans for which are well advanced, including decisions on the leadership.
That would be likely to involve a co-leadership role between Destiny and Future NZ.
The head of the Destiny Church, Bishop Brian Tamaki, appeared to open the door yesterday to seeking a role for himself in the new political party, when he suggested that he would make announcements today relating to his "political role looking towards 2008 and beyond".
But it is understood that he is unlikely to be interested in the co-leadership - a role which may be more likely to fall to Destiny party leader, Richard Lewis.
Some polls suggest Christian parties could gain 6 per cent support in 2008 - enough for seven seats.
But Christian-backed parties have struggled to gain parliamentary representation in previous years, partly because their vote has been splintered.
Destiny NZ draws much of its support from the 8000-member Destiny Church and other pentecostal congregations and won 14,210 votes, or 0.62 per cent, in 2005.
Mr Copeland said yesterday that he could not speculate on the outcome of Mr Tamaki's press conference today and was not in a position to comment.
He would confirm, however, that Future NZ was likely to undergo a name change between now and the election, though he said that was not related to today's announcements.
Mr Copeland entered Parliament under the UnitedFuture banner but quit to set up his own party in protest at legislation outlawing physical punishment.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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