The Cook Islands elects on national level a legislature. The Parliament of the Cook Islands has 24 members, elected for a four-year term in single-seat constuencies. The Cook Islands have a two-party system, which means that there are two dominant political parties, with extreme difficulty for anybody to achieve electoral success under the banner of any other party.
An election was held on 26 September 2006, after the opposition Cook Islands Party won a byelection in Matevera, leaving the government without a majority. The result was a close victory for the Democratic Party. The most recent election was held on 9 July 2014, which resulted in a 5-seat majority for the Cook Islands Party. The next election is expected to be held in 2018.
|Cook Islands Party||3,498||41.81||12|
|One Cook Islands||790||9.44||2|
|Source: Ministry of Finance and Economic Management|
Below is a list of recent by-elections:
|1965 Te-Ao-O-Tonga by-election||July 1965||Resignation of Marguerite Story||Albert Henry (CIP)|
|1965 Mauke by-election||November 1967||Tupui Henry (CIP)|
|1994 Ivirua by-election||December 1994||Jim Marurai (CIP)|
|1999 Pukapuka-Nassau by-election||29 September 1999||Invalidation of election results||None|
|2000 Pukapuka-Nassau by-election||28 September 2000||Invalidation of 1999 Pukapuka-Nassau by-election.||Tiaki Wuatai (NAP)|
|2002 Penrhyn by-election||June 2002||Disqualification of Tepure Tapaitau||Wilkie Rasmussen (CIP)|
|2003 Rua’au by-election||14 August 2003||Death of Maria Heather||Geoffrey Heather (DP)|
|2003 Arutanga by-election||20 November 2003||Resignation of Teina Bishop||Teina Bishop (Independent)|
|2005 Manihiki by-election||8 February 2005||Resignation of Robert Woonton||Henry Puna (CIP)|
|2006 Teenui-Mapumai by-election||8 June 2006||Retirement of Upoko Simpson||Norman George (Independent)|
|2006 Matavera by-election||19 July 2006||Conviction of Vaevae Pare for fraud||Kiriau Turepu (CIP)|
|2006 Akaoa by-election||29 November 2006||Previous election produced tied result||Teariki Heather (CIP)|
|2007 Titikaveka by-election||7 February 2007||Election of Robert Wigmore declared invalid||Robert Wigmore (DP)|
|2009 Tamarua by-election||3 February 2009||Death of Mii Parima||Pukeiti Pukeiti (CIP)|
|2011 Pukapuka by-election||7 June 2011||Election of Tekii Lazaro declared invalid||Tekii Lazaro (CIP)|
|2012 Titikaveka by-election||21 June 2012||Death of Robert Wigmore||Selina Napa (DP)|
|2013 Tamarua by-election||29 January 2013||Death of Pukeiti Pukeiti||Tetangi Matapo (DP)|
|2013 Murienua by-election||19 September 2013||Resignation of Tom Marsters||Kaota Tuariki (CIP)|
|2014 Murienua by-election||19 February 2014||Resignation of Kaota Tuariki||James Beer (DP)|
|2014 Mitiaro by-election||11 November 2014||Draw in the 2014 general election||Results not counted due to court order.|
|2015 Vaipae-Tautu by-election||31 March 2015||2014 election result voided||Moana Ioane (CIP)|
|2016 Arutanga-Reureu-Nikaupara by-election||13 October 2016||Teina Bishop convicted of corruption||Pumati Israela (OCI)|
|2019 Ivirua by-election||21 January 2019||Death of Tony Armstrong||Agnes Armstrong|
|2019 Tengatangi-Areora-Ngatiarua by-election||18 March 2019||Defection of Te-Hani Brown from the Democratic Party||Te-Hani Brown|
General elections were held in the Cook Islands on 20 April 1965 to elect 22 MPs to the Cook Islands Legislative Assembly. The elections were won by the Cook Islands Party and saw Albert Henry become the Cook Islands' first Prime Minister.
Because the election had the potential to result in removing the Cook Islands from the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, the election was observed by representatives of the UN. The holding of an election was necessary prior to the Constitution of the Cook Islands coming into force and the constitution, if approved by the elected Legislature, would institute self-government for the Cook Islands. After the election, the Legislative Assembly approved the constitution and the Cook Islands became self-governing on 4 August 1965. As a result, the UN removed the Cook Islands from its list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.1968 Cook Islands general election
General elections were held in the Cook Islands on 1 May 1968 to elect 22 MPs to the Cook Islands Legislative Assembly. The Cook Islands Party increased its number of seats from 14 to 16, while the newly formed United Cook Islanders won six seats to become the parliamentary opposition.1972 Cook Islands general election
General elections were held in the Cook Islands on 11 April 1972. The result was a victory for the Cook Islands Party, which won 15 of the 22 seats in the Legislative Assembly. The newly formed Democratic Party won seven seats.1974 Cook Islands general election
General elections were held in the Cook Islands in September 1974 to elect 22 MPs to the Cook Islands Parliament. The elections were won by the Cook Islands Party, which won 14 seats and 63.6% of the vote. The Democratic Party won 8 seats and 36.4% of the vote.
During the election the Democratic Party introduced "flying voters", chartering an Air Nauru Boeing 727 to fly voters from New Zealand to Rarotonga to vote. Voters paid their own fares, and the flights were open to all regardless of party affiliation. The tactic was copied by the government at the next election, though with public money.1978 Cook Islands general election
General elections were held in the Cook Islands on 30 March 1978 to elect 22 MPs to the Parliament. The result was a victory for the Cook Islands Party under Albert Henry, but it later emerged that the CIP had flown hundreds of supporters from New Zealand to the Cook Islands at public expense in order to vote. The results of the election were challenged, and the election of eight MPs was overturned by the High Court. Albert Henry was subsequently convicted of conspiracy and misuse of public money and stripped of his knighthood.
Following the disqualification of Cook Islands Party candidates, Democratic Party leader Tom Davis became Prime Minister.1989 Cook Islands general election
General elections were held in the Cook Islands in January, 1989 to elect 24 MPs to the Parliament. The elections saw the Cook Islands Party win 12 seats, the Democratic Tumu Party win 2 seats, and the Democratic Party-led opposition coalition win 9 seats. One seat was won by an independent. Following the elections, the Democratic Tumu Party supported the CIP, and Geoffrey Henry became Prime Minister for the second time.1994 Cook Islands general election
General elections were held in the Cook Islands on 24 March 1994 to elect 25 MPs to the Parliament. The election was a landslide victory for the Cook Islands Party, which won 20 seats. The Democratic Party won three seats, and the newly established Alliance Party two.1999 Cook Islands general election
General elections were held in the Cook Islands on 16 June 1999 to elect 25 MPs to the Parliament. The Cook Islands Party won 11 seats, the Democratic Alliance Party 10 seats, and the New Alliance Party 4 seats.Following the elections, the CIP formed a coalition with the NAP, with Geoffrey Henry as Prime Minister and NAP leader Norman George as his deputy. However, three members of the CIP subsequently quit the party and joined the Democrats, forcing Henry's resignation. Joe Williams subsequently became Prime Minister, but was forced to resign in November following a by-election and further coalition realignment. Finally, the Democratic party's Terepai Maoate became Prime Minister, with George as his deputy.2002 Penrhyn by-election
The Penrhyn by-election was a by-election in the Cook Islands electorate of Penrhyn. It was held in June 2002, and was precipitated by the disqualification of Tepure Tapaitau.
The poll was won by the Cook Islands Party's Wilkie Rasmussen.2003 Rua'au by-election
The Rua'au by-election was a by-election in the Cook Islands seat of Rua'au. It took place on 14 August 2003, and was precipitated by the death of Democratic Party MP Maria Heather.Three candidates contested the by-election: the Democratic Party's Geoffrey Heather, husband of the former MP; the Cook Islands Party's Vaine Wichman, and Cook Islands National Party leader Teariki Heather. The poll was won by Geoffrey Heather.2004 Cook Islands general election
General elections were held in the Cook Islands on 7 September 2004. Initial results showed the Democratic Party winning by a wide margin, but close results led to 11 electoral petitions being filed, delaying the date Parliament could sit until mid-December. In the interim, Prime Minister Robert Woonton announced that he was forming a coalition government with the rival Cook Islands Party. This led to a split within the Democrats, with Woonton and four other MPs leaving to form the Demo Tumu Party. With 14 MPs, the coalition had a comfortable majority in Parliament.
The results of the electoral petitions saw the seat of Titikaveka change hands while Woonton's seat was a dead tie. Woonton subsequently resigned in order to fight a by-election, causing his government to be dissolved. He was succeeded by his deputy, Jim Marurai.2005 Manihiki by-election
The 2005 Manihiki by-election was a by-election in the Cook Islands electorate of Manihiki. It was held on 8 February 2005, shortly after the 2004 general election, and was precipitated by an electoral petition finding the result in the seat to be a dead tie. Both parties to the petition, Prime Minister Robert Woonton and Cook Islands Party leader Henry Puna had agreed that in the event of a draw the question should be decided by the voters, and so Woonton resigned. As a result, Jim Marurai became Prime Minister.Woonton subsequently decided not to contest the election for personal reasons. The election was won by Henry Puna.2006 Cook Islands general election
General elections were held in the Cook Islands on September 27, 2006 in order to elect 24 MPs to the Cook Islands Parliament. The Democratic Party remained in power, winning 15 of 24 seats. A total of 8,497 voters turned out to vote.
The election was called two years early after the ruling Democratic party lost its majority in Parliament. In July 2006, Environment Minister Teina Bishop resigned from Cabinet and joined the opposition Cook Islands Party. Shortly afterwards, the Cook Islands Party won a by-election in Matevera, eliminating the government's majority. The government pre-empted a formal vote of no-confidence by dissolving Parliament and calling an election.Cook Islands Party leader Sir Geoffrey Henry announced his retirement during the campaign, resulting in his replacement as leader of the opposition by Tom Marsters. Cook Islands Party MP Wilkie Rasmussen switched his allegiance to the Democratic Party during the campaign, and the CIP was unable to nominate a replacement candidate. As a result, the seat of Penrhyn was unopposed.Initial results showed the Democratic Party winning 15 seats, and the Cook Islands Party 8, with one seat being held by an independent and one seat tied. A number of electoral petitions were filed, resulting in by-elections being held in the seats of Akaoa and Titikaveka.2006 Matavera by-election
The 2006 Matavera by-election was a by-election in the Cook Islands seat of Matavera. It took place on 19 July 2006, and was precipitated by the conviction of former Police Minister Peri Vaevae Pare for fraud.The by-election was won by Cook Islands Party candidate Kiriau Turepu. As a result, the government lost its majority, and dissolved Parliament to avoid a confidence vote, precipitating the 2006 general election.2009 Tamarua by-election
The Tamarua by-election was a by-election in the Cook Islands electorate of Tamarua. It was held on 3 February 2009, and was precipitated by the death of sitting MP Mii Parima.The by-election was won by the Cook Islands Party's Pukeiti Pukeiti.2010 Cook Islands general election
General elections were held in the Cook Islands on 17 November 2010 in order to elect 24 MPs to the Cook Islands Parliament. The elections were won by the Cook Islands Party, which won 16 of the 24 seats. Voter turnout was 78%.A binding referendum on whether the number of MPs should be reduced from 24 was held at the same time as the election.Parliament will sit for the first time following the election in February 2011.2018 Cook Islands general election
General elections were held in the Cook Islands on 14 June 2018 to elect the 24 members of the 15th Cook Islands Parliament.The nationalist, Cook Islands Party, led by the Prime Minister, Henry Puna, attempted to win a third consecutive term in government. However, the elections resulted in a hung parliament, with the opposition Democratic Party led by Tina Browne becoming the largest party, although Browne failed to win a seat, losing in Rakahanga constituency.
The Democratic Party won 11 seats, the Cook Islands Party 10 seats, One Cook Islands Movement one seat, with independent candidates winning two seats. Following the election, the Cook Islands Party joined forces with the independents and One Cook Islands to retain power.March 1983 Cook Islands general election
General elections were held in the Cook Islands on 30 March 1983 to elect 24 MPs to the Parliament. The election saw the Cook Islands Party under Geoffrey Henry win power, but the result was overturned within months and Parliament was dissolved, leading to new elections in November 1983.November 1983 Cook Islands general election
General elections were held in the Cook Islands on 2 November 1983 to elect 24 MPs to the Parliament. The election was called as a result of the March, 1983 elections being overturned. The result was a coalition government, with Democratic Party leader Tom Davis becoming Prime Minister, with the Cook Islands Party's Geoffrey Henry as Deputy Prime Minister. Henry was later replaced with Dr Terepai Maoate.
Following the election the result in the constituency of Ruaau was declared void due to treating by an unsuccessful candidate.
Electorates of the Cook Islands
Elections in Oceania
of New Zealand
and other territories