OCI now has two seats in parliament. Pumati Isaraela is the MP for Aitutaki’s Arutanga-Reureu-Nikaupara electorate, while “Action Man” George Maggie Angene holds Tupapa-Maraerenga.
OCI leader Teina Bishop says come coalition negotiation time, his party will not be asking for ministerial portfolios. However, he says all five of his party’s national policy priorities will be non-negotiable.
Bishop estimates OCI will win at least three seats in the election, but is hoping for four. As a majority of at least 13 seats is required to be able to form a government, it is likely both the Cook Islands Party (CIP) and the Democratic Party (Demos) will be forced to sit around the negotiating table with OCI.
However, the Cook Islands Party is confident in its ability to continue governing alone, should they win a majority of seats in Parliament in the June 14 election.
Party campaign manager Mark Brown says his party will wait for the outcome of the election before discussing coalition compromises.
He says coalition concessions are a matter for the parties involved to discuss “freely and frankly in closed discussion”, rather than through the media.
Democratic Party candidate for Murienua, James Beer, says any political party with broad-based policies and seeking representation in 23 out of the 24 electorates, does not go into an election to join with another.
“We are in this election to be government, there are no two ways about it.”
Beer says his party does not see OCI’s policy on political reform as a long term solution.
“Political reform should not be an issue that is constantly tackled at every election without any answers at all. We say, that the best way for political reform is to give that authority to someone else, someone independent of parliament.”
The Demo finance spokesman says OCI’s policy regarding conflicts of interest amongst those deliberating political reform might be a solution, but is still “incomplete”.
Any acceptance of another party’s policies would require close analysis, adds Beer. He says the Democratic Party would first need to know what the effects would be on their own key policies.
“We will not be sidetracked from carrying out our platform policies.”