“The people have spoken and have remained with the Demos, regardless of the overpowering campaign put on by the CIP,” said party leader Tina Browne, in response to the victory.
Preliminary results yesterday confirmed a win for Democratic candidate Anthony Armstrong with a total of 45 votes so far in his favour, nudging out Cook Islands Party hopeful candidate Orauamia Harry who received 32 votes.
A total of 80 people were entitled to vote in the Ivirua electorate, and Chief Electoral Officer Taggy Tangimetua said the count included ordinary votes, special care votes, and votes taken in advance from Rarotonga. The final count of votes took place late yesterday afternoon after CINews’ print deadline.
The Demo victory means the Cook Islands Party’s efforts to tackle political reform will be further hampered.
The Cook Islands Party was hoping to secure the seat to give them a 14-seat house majority in the 24-seat parliament.
Prime minister Henry Puna had earlier promised voters a win for CIP would give government the opportunity to tackle political reform. However, he did not provide specific details of what reforms he would introduce.
The chief executive of the Leader of the Opposition Office, Wilkie Rasmussen, said the Democratic Party was very pleased with the outcome of the Ivirua by-election.
“We were confident of winning it, but we kept a low profile and worked with the people of Ivirua in a way that was respectful of their views and needs.
“This is the start of the resurgence of the Democratic Party into a position so that the voters will have confidence in it being a viable and credible government for the future.
“I believe the people of the Cook Islands are fed up with the ‘could not care less’ attitude of this government.”
The Democratic Party played a long game in their efforts to retain the seat, with Armstrong having relocated there three years ago with the clear purpose of replacing retired former Ivirua MP Jim Marurai.
He tightly held the Ivirua seat since he was first elected to Parliament in a by-election in December, 1994.
“Karikao Paongata” is how Tina Browne described the people of a democratic stronghold. She says the saying is an analogy of a “shell in the sea which is hard to crack.
“And if you try to break it, it will take a long time.”
She said accuracy of the saying was clearly reflected in the by-election results.
Browne and her team had joined Amstrong briefly in Mangaia last week before the election to meet the election committee, and when they left they were quietly confident they’d be assured of the win, as their numbers were stacking up, she said
Browne’s team refrained from speaking out on talkback or in the newspaper and wanted to wait until after the election to make any comment.
“It was made clear to us that the campaign was to be left to the people of Ivirua, as the way they saw the election, it was their people and their constituency,” she said.