HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Why has government become unpopular?
How did a political party which won the 2010 general election with such a healthy majority, become so unpopular so quickly?
The reason some say that the Cook Islands Party (CIP) has become unpopular is because there has been a transfer of emphasis from the “party” to the “person.”
Two years out from the next general election, some party members are already worried about their fading political support especially at the grassroots level. Depopulation, low pay rates, high interest rates, lack of shipping services, costly inter-island air fares are among concerns the grassroots want addressed.
People at the basic grassroots level are also not happy about certain persistent behaviours.
1. They are not happy at what they perceive is excessive overseas travel by Ministers. It is one thing for Ministers to meet and talk to their counterparts overseas about topics of common concern in the region but it’s physical change on the ground at home that people want to see. A grower can see the rewards of his labour when his crops grow before his eyes. It is very difficult to see at times, what Ministers are growing.
2. They are not happy with the 10 percent withholding tax and increase in departure tax. These adjustments were poorly articulated to the public with the result they did not “buy in” to the changes. Instead it portrayed an inexperienced government in panic mode, more worried about balancing the Budget, a document largely made up of estimates, assumptions and predictions. If we were living in the Middle Ages, this document could be considered a work of witchcraft.
3. They are not happy at the lack of proper governance, evident by the fact most Ministries are not transparent enough, do not believe it is necessary to have a communications strategy and provide a public “hindrance” instead of a public “service.”
4. They are not happy with the continuation of the condoned ill practice of appointing family, friends and political hacks to high paying jobs ahead of more competent, qualified persons. The CIP had the opportunity to break the cycle of politically expedient appointments but decided to catch the same disease as its predecessors. Senior party members may excuse the appointments as simply being the inherent nature of local politics in a small society but there are risks to our credibility.
Following the 2010 election, had the CIP leadership been thinking strategically, then they may have considered the following strategy;
1. Govern as a populist party, introducing popular changes for the first two years.
2. With high popularity assured and in the bag, call a snap election in the second year and gain a further four years of rule.
3. Conduct a referendum after the snap election to lower the term from 4 years to 3 years. If approved by referendum, use two thirds majority to change the Constitution so parliamentary term reduced to three years.
4. Call a snap election in the third year and gain a further three years of rule.
5. Now introduce those changes that may be less popular.
Had the CIP adopted this strategy it could have been in power for up to 8 years-plenty of time to bring in radical changes. -Charles Pitt

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

Copyright 2006 Cook Islands Herald online . All rights reserved.