Democratic Party (Cook Islands)

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Cook Islands Democratic Party
LeaderTina Browne
PresidentSean Willis
Secretary-GeneralAngeline Tuara
FounderThomas Davis
HeadquartersAvarua, Rarotonga, Avatiu, Cook Islands
IdeologySocial liberalism
Political positionCentre[1] to centre-left[2]
Seats in the Cook Islands Parliament
11 / 24
Facebook page

The Democratic Party (also known for a time as the Democratic Alliance Party) is a political party in the Cook Islands. As a result of the 2018 Cook Islands election, it is currently the largest party in the Cook Islands Parliament.

Early years[edit]

The Democratic Party was founded by Tom Davis in 1971, in opposition to the Cook Islands Party (CIP) of Albert Henry. In the 1972 election, it won eight seats, breaking the two-thirds majority of the CIP.[3] In 1978, it won power, with Davis becoming Prime Minister. It became one of the two primary parties of the Cook Islands, alternating in power with the CIP. Davis served as prime minister of the Cook Islands from 1978 to 1987, with a brief interruption in 1983 when the Cook Islands briefly returned to power. The Democratic Party remained in power until 1989. In the late 1990s, the party experienced a split, with the majority of the party renamed as the Democratic Alliance Party. A breakaway faction led by Norman George was named the New Alliance Party. Despite this, the Democratic Party became the largest political party in the 1999 elections, winning 11 of 25 seats. The New Alliance Party, with 4 seats, made a coalition with the Cook Islands party to keep that party in power for several more months, but the coalition soon broke down, and the New Alliance Party formed a coalition party with the Democrats, allowing Democratic party leader Terepai Maoate to become prime minister. The Democratic Alliance Party and the New Alliance Party later reunited under the old Democratic Party name.

In 2002 Maoate was overthrown in a no confidence vote and replaced by his deputy Robert Woonton, also a member of the DAP. It formed a coalition with the Cook Islands Party which broke down in 2003.

2004 and 2006 elections[edit]

At the next elections, 7 September 2004, the Democratic Alliance won 47.2% of popular votes and 12 out of 24 seats. Prime Minister Robert Woonton, though initially believed to have retained his seat, which would have allowed the Democratic Party to have a majority, was determined in a recount to have received an equal number of votes as his opponent, and he lost a revote. The new party leader, Jim Marurai, became Prime Minister. In 2005, however, Marurai left the party due to internal disputes, founding his own Cook Islands First Party. Marurai continued to govern with the help of the CIP. Later, however, the agreement with the CIP broke down, and Marurai allied himself with the Democrats again. He has since rejoined the party, continuing to serve as Prime Minister but not party leader. Terepai Maoate became deputy prime minister and party leader. At the 2006 elections, the Democratic Party gained a majority of seats, winning 15 of the 24 seats.

2010 election campaign[edit]

The party suffered from internal strife in the leadup to the 2010 election. In December 2009, Prime Minister Jim Marurai sacked his Deputy Prime Minister, Terepai Maoate, sparking a mass-resignation of Democratic Party cabinet members[4][5] He and new Deputy Prime Minister Robert Wigmore were subsequently expelled from the Democratic Party,[6] and the party withdrew its support.[7] A formal split was averted in June 2010 when a party conference readmitted Marurai, Wigmore, and the other Cabinet members, and appointed Wigmore as party leader, with Wilkie Rasmussen as his deputy.[8] However, several senior MPs, including former leader Terepai Maoate and former President John Tangi subsequently failed to win reselection and ran as independents.[9][10]

The party launched its campaign on 7 October in vaka Takitumu[11] with the campaign slogan "Our Future. Now."[12] The party promised stability,[12] benefit increases, and public service cuts.[13] It contested every electorate except Arutanga-Nikaupara-Reureu.[11] The party was unsuccessful in the elections, winning only 8 of 24 seats.[14]

After the death of Robert Wigmore from cancer in April 2012 Wilkie Rasmussen was appointed acting leader.[15] His leadership of the party was confirmed at the party's annual conference in August 2012.[16]

Electoral performance[edit]

Legislative Assembly[edit]

Election Votes % Seats +/– Rank Government
1972 N/A
7 / 22
New Increase 2nd Opposition
8 / 22
Increase 1 Steady 2nd Opposition
7 / 22
Decrease 1 Steady 2nd Opposition
March 1983 44.9
11 / 24
Increase 4 Steady 2nd Opposition
Nov 1983 48.5
13 / 24
Increase 2 Increase 1st Majority
9 / 25
Decrease 4 Decrease 2nd Opposition
1994 15.4
3 / 25
Decrease 6 Decrease 3rd Opposition
10 / 25
Increase 7 Increase 2nd Opposition
2004 3,944 45.3
14 / 24
Increase 4 Increase 1st Majority
2006 4,420 52.0
14 / 24
Steady 0 Steady 1st Majority
2010 3,302 44.5
8 / 24
Decrease 6 Decrease 2nd Opposition
2014 3,909 46.72
7 / 24
Decrease 1 Increase 1st Opposition
2018 3,620 41.91
11 / 24
Increase 4 Decrease 2nd Opposition
2022 2,377 26.93
5 / 24
Decrease 6 Steady 2nd Opposition


Party presidents[edit]

  • Makiuti Tongia (until 3 June 2010)
  • Sean Willis (3 June 2010 – present)


  1. ^ The statesman's yearbook 2011 : the politics, cultures and economies of the world. Barry Turner. Basingstoke. 2010. p. 933. ISBN 978-1-349-58635-6. OCLC 968706249.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ MacLean-McMahon, L. (2011). Political Campaigning in a Developing Country: A case study of the Cook Islands (Thesis, Master of Arts). University of Otago. Retrieved from
  3. ^ "Kopu Tangata Demo - About Us". Cook Islands Democratic Party. Archived from the original on 9 July 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2010.
  4. ^ "Cooks Deputy Prime Minister replaced, prompting a walkout". Radio New Zealand International. 24 December 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2009.
  5. ^ "Cabinet Ministers Resign in Support of Party Leader". Democratic Party - Cook Islands. 23 December 2009. Archived from the original on 9 July 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2009.
  6. ^ "PM sacked by Demo Party". Cook Islands Herald. 23 December 2009. Retrieved 27 December 2009.
  7. ^ "Marurai Wilkie coalition falling apart". Democratic Party - Cook Islands. 31 December 2009. Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  8. ^ "New leadership for Cook Islands Democratic Party". Radio New Zealand International. 3 June 2010. Retrieved 5 June 2010.
  9. ^ "Former Cook Islands Prime Minister to run as independent". Radio New Zealand International. 7 October 2010. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  10. ^ "Already on the campaign trail". Cook Islands News. 2 September 2010. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  11. ^ a b "Demo campaign kicks off". Cook Islands News. 6 October 2010. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
  12. ^ a b "Demos bill manifesto as 'playbook'". Cook Islands News. 16 October 2010. Archived from the original on 26 October 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  13. ^ "Democratic Party launches manifesto, vowing public sector cuts". Radio New Zealand International. 20 October 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  14. ^ "Preliminary results show Democrats ousted in Cook Islands election". Radio New Zealand International. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2010.
  15. ^ "Salute to Wigmore". Cook Islands News. 14 April 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  16. ^ "Demos confirm leader, plan ahead". Cook Islands News. 15 August 2012. Archived from the original on 1 March 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2012.