15 Jun 2018

Cook Islanders go to the polls today

4:29 am on 15 June 2018

Voters in the Cook Islands go to the polls today in the country's general elections and voter turnout is expected to be high at over 80 per cent - something that's not unusual in each of the 24 constituencies

Preliminary results are expected to be all in by 10 o'clock tonight local time.

A Cook Islands woman at a commemoration at New Zealand's Parliament for Cook Island soldiers who served in the First World War. 2016

Photo: RNZ / Daniela Maoate-Cox

When Prime Minister Henry Puna announced the June 14 date for the general elections less than two months ago, there was a general feeling of relief that there would be only a short lead-up time to polling day.

Long campaign periods have been known to place the small communities in the Cook Islands under considerable pressure as party politics plays a major role in the lives of many.

Cook Islands Party leaders including current prime minister Henry Puna second from right.

Cook Islands Party leaders including current prime minister Henry Puna second from right. Photo: Cook Islands Party Facebook Page

Three political parties are contesting the elections - the ruling Cook Islands Party led by PM Henry Puna, Democratic Party whose leader Tina Browne is being promoted by the party as the country's first woman prime minister and One Cook Islands, the smallest political party that could end up holding the balance of power.

With 12 women vying for seats in Parliament it's the highest number ever to contest a general election, with the youngest being just 22 years old

58 candidates are contesting the 24 seats in the Cook Islands Parliament.

Cook Islands Democratic Party leader, Tina Browne

Cook Islands Democratic Party leader, Tina Browne Photo: Cook Islands Democratic Party

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