In the closest 2014 General Election final result so far announced by Chief Electoral Officer Taggie Tangimetua, Cook Islands Party MP Kiriau Turepu had his election night vote lead of seven over Democratic Party candidate Cassey Eggelton, up to 13 in the final count, making this a possibility for an electoral petition and a potential further by-election. (He received 288 votes to her 275).
At the time of writing, Eggelton could not confirm whether or not there will be a challenge, telling CINews that it was to be discussed at a meeting last night.
But, if this happens, it will be a case of déjà vu for the Minister of Agriculture in the previous government, having already successfully faced a by-election challenge.
Kiriau Turepu’s victory in 2010 came on the heels of three consecutive losses – he ran unsuccessfully as an independent in 1999 and again with the CIP in 2004. He won in the 2006 by-election but, before he even had a chance to be sworn in, Parliament was dissolved.
In the 2006 General Election, Turepu yielded his seat to Eggelton but, in 2010, he got it back, polling 294 votes over Eggelton’s 213.
Meanwhile, four of the winners confirmed to date are Democratic Party (Demo) candidates with one being Cook Islands Party (CIP) and one One Cook Islands (OCI).
One Cook Islands Party’s George Maggie extended his election night count by a further 70 votes when the advance and postal votes were included, while Demo candidate Lee Harmon got a further 50 votes, to trail Maggie by 216.
CIP’s Isaia Willie Junior was a distant third on 197, gaining an extra 33 votes in the final count.
In Titikaveka, successful candidate Selina Napa saw her majority over CIP’s Teariki Matenga cut from 78 on election night to 69 in the final count, while Titikaveka Oire candidate Teava Iro picked up six to finish with 96. Had he not stood, the result may well have been reversed.
The other results were all good news for the Demos with Tamaiva Tuavera (Captain Tama) increasing his majority to 74 over CIP’s Atatoa Joseph Herman in Ngatangiia. The presence of independent Teina Mackenzie would not have changed the result because she received 73 votes; one less than Captain Tama’s majority.
In Nikao-Panama Ngau Mau Munakoa picked up an extra 65 votes to increase her majority over CIP’s Piritau Nga to 183, while in Avatiu-Ruatonga, Albert Nicholas extended his lead to 34 over CIP’s John Mokoenga Tikaka Henry with a final tally of 292 to 258.
Tangimetua says she intends to release six final results each day with the last on Friday, with most interest focusing on the tied Tamavua result and Prime Minister Henry Puna’s two vote election night deficit.
Based on the election night results only the Democratic Party is currently in a position to form a government, but it would have to be a coalition with the One Cook Islands’ two MPs, Teina Bishop and George Maggie.
If Puna can overcome his deficit and the Tamavua result goes CIP’s way then the final results could be a hung Parliament with both major parties having 12 seats each.
With OCI having been formed by two former CIP MPs, their final decision on whom to support may depend on whether any bridges burnt prior to the snap election can be rebuilt.
However, all parties are not saying much as they await the final results.
Editor's note: In a previous version of this article, Matavera's election night majority was wrong, saying CIP’s Kiriau Turepu led by 17 when his actual lead was seven. The gap between him and Demo candidate Cassey Eggelton after the final count was correctly recorded as 13.