The Democratic Party is hoping it can bolster its presence in Parliament after filing appeals of four petition decisions that were recently handed down by the High Court.
According to a Demo statement, the Party is appealing the decision on a petition filed by Party Leader Wilkie Rasmussen – who lost his Penrhyn seat to Willie John of the Cook Islands Party.
Petitions have also been filed for the island of Manihiki and the constituencies of Vaipae-Tautu and Tengatangi-Areora.
Rasmussen said an appeal for Teenui-Mapumai will be filed next week.
The Party says it has sought the services of a New Zealand law firm and members of the Queen’s Counsel, who have identified “some fundamental issues to appeal”.
The decision to appeal has been endorsed by the puna committees, caucus, and the Demo executive, said Rasmussen.
“I am greatly encouraged by the insights of our lawyers in New Zealand who have read through the respective minutes of the High Court,” said Rasmussen.
Out of a total of six petitions heard by the High Court last month, five were dismissed.
Only the Demo’s petition contesting the results for the constituency of Tamarua in Mangaia was upheld.
The petitions dealt with issues surrounding voter qualification, and contained numerous allegations of bribery and treating, all of which were dismissed apart from one count of bribery upheld in Vaipae-Tautu - implicating victorious Cook Islands Party candidate Mona Ioane.
With only nine of the 24 seats in Parliament occupied by the Demos, the appeals represent an opportunity to close in on the CIP’s 12 seats, and possibly for a majority government without the need for a coalition with One Cook Islands.
“I believe the Democratic Party will succeed with these appeals and it will then have the majority to govern,” he said. “We stand with great hope and pride that sooner or later we will claim victory and have justice,” said Rasmussen.
Possible coalition partners, One Cook Islands and the Democratic Party, have shrugged off Prime Minister Henry Puna’s allegations that they are destabilising the Cook Islands Party-led government.