Niue Premier race closest in years
A close race expected between Toke Talagi and Stanley Kalauni who lobby legislative assembly to become Niue's next Premier.
It's expected to be a close race between the top two pollers in Niue, as they lobby for support to determine who will become the next Premier.
Toke Talagi, the premier since 2008, came second to businessman Stanley Kalauni in the common roll stakes in Niue's general election on Saturday.
Leilani Momoisea reports.
The provisional results show that Stanley Kalauni beat Toke Talagi by 11 votes in the common roll - 450 to 439. The Premier is elected by the legislative assembly and those on Niue say support appears to be split down the middle, and the race could be tight. Stanley Kalauni says a few people have asked him to put his hand up to be Premier and have promised him their backing. He's been having a number of meetings to determine the level of support there is for him. However Tuapa village seat winner, Fisa Pihigia, says he supports Mr Talagi and expects him to have the numbers to continue on as Premier.
FISA PIHIGIA: Because Stanley [Kalauni] has topped the common roll doesn't mean that he's going to lead the new government. It's up to the members of the assembly, and looking at the members, Toke has the number, maybe just one or two, with one undecided, that's the seat for Toi, because of the equal votes up there.
The 14 village seats remain intact apart from Makefu, which voted out a Talagi supported MP, and Toi village, where the results were tied. Former MP, Esther Pavihi, says there's almost always been the public expectation that whoever tops the common roll will lead the next government. But she says Mr Kalauni still has some work to do to gain an outright majority of supporters, and whoever wins the Toi seat could hold the balance of power.
ESTHER PAVIHI: Whichever one is picked out of a hat in the Toi constituency will have a very crucial role to play in whether [it's] the Kalauni camp or the Talagi camp. But interestingly, this isn't the first time that Toi's been pulled out of a hat, this is the second time.
The chair of the chamber of commerce, Avi Rubin, says it's still too close to call.
AVI RUBIN: Because now every member of parliament is important because now it's almost hanging, that particular village and I believe the Makefu village also that had the change, they might keep the vote in different directions.
But he says both Mr Talagi or Mr Kalauni as Premier will be good for the private sector.
AVI RUBIN: I'm quite happy because both top-running candidates have both background in the private sector, so for the private sector they will both be good, I'm quite sure. They understand business and they are both successful, so regardless of who will take the leadership I believe that Niue will continue and the direction is good.
Esther Pavihi, who also unsuccessfully contested this years elections, says it's disappointing to see there will be no increase in the number of women in government. She says while her campaign was very last minute, it's a shame there weren't more women candidates to win a place.
ESTHER PAVIHI: Let's just say that there was actually some hope that there will be support for women candidates, particularly on the common role, but that didn't eventuate. And now you have only two members who are women in the house.
The winner for Toi village is still to be drawn from a hat, and if Mokaelalini Vaha's name is drawn, it will take the number of elected women candidates up to 3 - the same number of women representatives as the previous government.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: