Cooks by-election decider heats up
A move by a Cook Islands MP to switch parties has been labelled a setup by the Prime Minister and 'a blatant disregard for the rules'
The leader of the opposition Democratic Party in the Cook Islands says the recent 'party hopping' move by a Democrat MP crossing over to the current ruling Cook Islands Party is a set up by the Prime Minister and a blatant disregard for the rules.
Wilkie Rasmussen told Jenny Meyer that MP Albert Nicholas, who recently switched political sides could easily either lose his seat through breaching the anti-party provisions or have his constituency turn against him.
WILKIE RASMUSSEN: This is the first time he's entered parliament. He won of course, in July. We see him as fairly young in the political world and of course we've coached him into sort of staying put and biding his time and learning the ropes before taking on the senior responsibilities of a cabinet minister. But he chose in this instance to go. I think he's motivated by ambition of course. And of course by the fact that the Prime Minister had offered him a ministerial position. Which is something very valuable and politicians will inevitably be tempted by it. But in this regard, of the laws that were passed by our own parliament.
JENNY MEYER: What are the chances of a deadlock or a hung parliament after the vote coming up?
WR: It's very real. I mean, at the moment there are 11 Cook Island party members, 10 Democratic party members and 2 One Cook Islands Party Members who are in some alliance with the Democratic party. So you're going to have a hung parliament of 12. I mean if this seat is won by the Democratic party or the One Cook Islands party - they'll have 12 and the CIP will have 11. Of course now the other guy has crossed over, the CIP plus 1 is 12 and then you've got a real situation of 12 all - a hung parliament. Some of us are predicting that the Prime Minister may have to call a snap election again. So we might go back to the polls around about November this year.
JM: So it could all be for nothing?
WR: Well it could all been for nothing you know. Earlier in the start of July, about August, the suggestion was made that perhaps the best way to get out of all of the political shenanigans that would go on and of course the court proceedings that prompted by this notion that we win one seat and then we could win the other. And also compounded by the fact that the majorities are very slim so it should have been at the very start when the numbers were not clear. And of course when you don't have a majority and you only hold 12, you should have called a new election. I reckon.
JM: You've said that some of the Campaigning has come across almost like pro-government propaganda. Are you talking about things like extra flights on a Sunday to Aitutaki? What do you mean by this propaganda and lack of fairness not giving the Democrats the fair shot in the media. What's the story there?
WR: Well, what has happened is that the government has lined up with this so that all the stuff that they put out in the media are all propaganda-ish stuff but not reality stuff. Not talking about the real needs of people, the real issues that are there. So it's basically just public relations all the way.
The Aitutaki by-election is due to be held on the 31 of March and results should be available the next day after a count in Rarotonga.
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