Prime minister Henry Puna is relying on the economic growth and stability that he says has been experienced under the CIP government to guide them through unscathed in the polls.
However, Tina Browne, the Democratic Party leader, remains upbeat about her party’s chances of changing the government.
In a national poll conducted by the CI News over the past week, CIP has a slight lead as the preferred party on 32 per cent, followed by the Democratic Party on 30.
However, Puna comes in third as preferred prime minister, with Browne first on 29 per cent. Twenty-eight per cent of poll respondents were “not sure” who they preferred to lead the country for the next four years.
Puna, who is seeking re-election in his Manihiki electorate, says he is confident in the work his government has done over the past eight years. He says it has brought growth and stability to the economy, and most importantly to the people of the Cook Islands. He believes the CIP will be allowed to govern for a third term because of this.
“Our people have more money in their pocket and the growth in tourism has been phenomenal over the past eight years. We have begun and worked on infrastructure projects so as we can sustain this growth without detrimental effects on our waste, roads, and our lagoons.” Puna says.
“The passing of Marae Moana was significant and there is so much more we plan to do, given the opportunity to govern again for the next four years. A strong economy has allowed not just tourism growth, but also growth in building and accommodations for our own people.
“We are now putting our faith in the people of the Cook Islands to put their faith and trust in us that we will continue to make it happen for them and continue to provide growth and stability to 2022.”
Browne says her party had a range of expectations when setting out on the ambitious venture of changing governments.
“For me, it was extra challenging because as leader, I have to both lead the party and be the best possible advocate for my constituents in Rakahanga, my electorate,” she says.
“I expected it to be exciting – which it is; I expected it to be an uplifting experience and it certainly is, but also one that is humbling when you realise the need our people have for change, and the faith that they place in you to make that happen.
“I expected it to be tough, which it is, especially as our main concern is to reduce the cost of living and to listen to the voices of our people.
“Hard decisions need to be made to deliver a robust economy while adhering to our strong values but the philosophy of our party is “Our People Our Priority”, which guides us in all our decision-making.”
Brown says her greatest expectation is that the Democratic Party will win the elections and the change she says the country needs “so badly”, will happen.
A total of 58 candidates is contesting the 24 seats available in parliament. The CIP and the Democratic Party are each contesting 23 constituencies.