Politics of the Cook Islands

The politics of the Cook Islands, an associated state, takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democracy within a constitutional monarchy. The Queen of New Zealand, represented in the Cook Islands by the Queen's Representative, is the Head of State; the Chief Minister is the head of government and of a multi-party system. The Islands are self-governing in free association with New Zealand and are fully responsible for internal affairs. New Zealand retains some responsibility for external affairs, in consultation with the Cook Islands. In recent years, the Cook Islands has taken on more of its own external affairs; as of 2005, it has diplomatic relations in its own name with eighteen other countries. Executive power is exercised by the government, while legislative power is vested in both the government and the islands' parliament. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislatures.

Executive branch

Queen || Elizabeth II || || 6 February 1952
Queen's Representative || Sir Frederick Goodwin KBE || || 9 February 2001
Prime Minister || Jim Marurai || DAP || 14 December 2004The monarch is hereditary; her representative is appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the Cook Islands Government. The cabinet is chosen by the prime minister and collectively responsible to Parliament. Ten years of rule by the Cook Islands Party (CIP) came to an end 18 November 1999 with the resignation of Prime Minister Joe Williams. Williams had led a minority government since October 1999 when the New Alliance Party (NAP) left the government coalition and joined the main opposition Democratic Party (DAP). On 18 November 1999, DAP leader Dr. Terepai Maoate was sworn in as prime minister. He was succeeded by his co-partisan Robert Woonton. When Dr Woonton lost his seat in the 2004 elections, Jim Marurai took over.

Following uncertainty about the ability of the government to maintain its majority, the Queen's representative dissolved parliament mid-way through its term and a 'snap' election was held on 26 September 2006. Jim Marurai's Democratic Party retained the Treasury benches with an increased majority.The New Zealand High Commissioner is appointed by the New Zealand Government.

Legislative branch

The Parliament of the Cook Islands has 24 members, elected for a five year term in single-seat constituencies. There is also a House of Ariki, composed of chiefs, which has a purely advisory role.

On June 13, 2008, a small majority of members of the House of Ariki attempted a coup, claiming to dissolve the elected government and to take control of the country's leadership. "Basically we are dissolving the leadership, the prime minister and the deputy prime minister and the ministers," chief Makea Vakatini Joseph Ariki explained. The "Cook Islands Herald" suggested that the "ariki" were attempting thereby to regain some of their traditional prestige or "mana". [ [http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/536641/1845025 "Cooks heading for internal strife"] , TVNZ, June 13, 2008] [ [http://www.stuff.co.nz/4583560a12.html "NZ Maori stirs Cooks sovereignty stoush"] , Stuff.co.nz, June 13, 2008] Prime Minister Jim Marurai described the take-over move as "ill-founded and nonsensical". [ [http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/4587067a12.html "NZ Maori behind strange Cook's 'coup'"] , Stuff.co.nz, June 17, 2008] By June 23, the situation appeared to have normalised, with members of the House of Ariki accepting to return to their regular duties. [ [http://www.rnzi.com/pages/news.php?op=read&id=40504 "Cook Islands chiefs drop take over claim, return to normal duties"] , Radio New Zealand International, June 23, 2008]

Political parties and elections

International organization participation

AsDB, ESCAP (associate), FAO, ICAO, ICFTU, IFAD, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), IOC, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UNESCO, WHO, WMO

References

External links

* [http://www.paclii.org/ck/legis/num_act/cotci327/ Constitution of the Cook Islands and amendments]

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