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19 July 2022

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National

Poll shows voters want less Members of Parliament

Tuesday 2 August 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in National, Politics

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Poll shows voters want less Members of Parliament
Iaveta Short. Photo: COOK ISLANDS NEWS/20062612

An overwhelming majority of people want to reduce the current number of Members of Parliament according to a Cook Islands News poll.

The poll asked one percent of the country’s population, “Should we reduce the number of MPs?”

The results showed 71.7 per cent of people wanted to reduce the number, 20 per cent said they did not want it reduced, and 8.3 per cent said they did not know.

Rarotonga was more keen than the outer islands to see the number reduced, with 75 per cent support. The Pa Enua had 60.7 per cent of people supporting reducing the number.

Former government minister Iaveta Short, who has been critical in the past about the country having 24 MPs, said the current system was undemocratic.

“It's not a question of reducing the number of MPs, it's a question of re-allocating it so that it is a democratic representative of the people,” Short said.

“I think the number one priority is the re-allocation of seat numbers, of seats, according to population.

“It should be a democratic system; a democratic system means one vote has the same value for everybody. You can't tell me a small constituency with less than 100 votes has the same power as a constituency with over 1000 voters, it doesn't make sense.”

Short said nobody in Parliament wanted to change the number because it needed “brain work” but said the country could bring in overseas experts to help the Cook Islands restructure its political system.

“Everybody already understands what we now have is stupid. What is stupid is doing nothing about it.

“We know generally speaking what we want and that's every constituency has generally about the same number of people.”

Out of the people who said they wanted the number of seats reduced, 20 per cent said they wanted it reduced to 12. Another 20 per cent said they wanted 15 MPs, 16.7 per cent said they wanted 20, and 12.5 per cent said 18. The remaining 2.5 per cent said they wanted either below 12 MPs or they were not sure how much they wanted it reduced by.

Democratic Party leader Tina Browne said her Party would be guided by the wishes of the people.

“This would have been an excellent issue to have put to our people in a referendum staged at the same time as the general elections.”

However, Short disagreed.  

“It’s a dumb question, everyone knows we have to. Why do you need to ask the people when it’s obvious?

“Basically we have a dysfunctional political system that is extremely costly and the country just carries the burden.”

Cook Islands News reached out to Cook Islands Party for comment but did not get a response.

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