26 Nov 2010

Cook Islands referendum on reducing seats in Parliament evenly split

5:41 am on 26 November 2010

The vote in the Cook Islands referendum on reducing the number of parliamentary seats is currently evenly split, but it may not be an indication of the final result.

The Cook Islands Electoral Office says after counting referendum votes in nine constituencies, 50 percent have voted in favour of reducing the number of seats.

A two-thirds majority is needed for the non-binding referendum to be successful.

But our correspondent, Florence Syme-Buchanan, says the final result could change as the count so far is only from the outer islands

"That there is a 50-50 vote with the referendum indicates that the wishes of Rarotonga aren't necessarily being reflected in the outer islands. They could feel that with the reduction in MPs, their representation in parliament is being removed for them and they wouldn't be happy with that."

Florence Syme-Buchanan says a new government is not bound to enforce the referendum and the Cook Islands Party, which won the preliminary election count has stated that the will of Rarotonga should not be imposed on the outer islands.