Home Politics The Countdown Begins

The Countdown Begins


Elections 17 The Countdown Begins…

After today Thursday, there is only one clear day of campaigning left for candidates to get their message to the people.  All activities relating to the promotion of candidates for the General Elections must cease at midnight on Friday.

In keeping with past practice there is now a flurry of activity with candidates circling the island with their pamphlets and any other paraphernalia that may assist them in their quest for a seat on the great council of tribal-wise-people. Some are observed to be spending time elaborating their policies, while others are just happy to hand out their printed material and move on.

TV Niue and Radio Sunshine are offering both free air time and paid air time to all candidates. On national television candidates have the option of delivering their own script for up to five minutes or a Q&A session for up to 20 minutes. Those who can afford it can pay for air-time. The national radio Radio Sunshine is offering a daily slot from 11am to 12 noon. 

For the first time ever, we have two regional observers to look at how the island conducts its voting process. Tala Niue understands the two have already had a meeting with public servants.

41st Celebration Of Self Government – October 2015 – pic B Vakaafi

The makings of an Opposition?

Meantime back on the hustings, the opposition are starting to get some momentum with three of the old hands getting together to present a united front – Togia Sioneholo, Crossley Tatui and Stan Kalauni. Using the slogan ‘Putting People First’ the trio has released a wide-ranging manifesto that covers across all those areas that can be found in any state ranging from health and education to population development and good governance. One area the three candidates hope to pursue is an east-west air service which at one time was operated by Polynesian Airlines with a Boeing 737 from Apia to Niue, then on to the Cook Island and Tahiti. In contrast to Sir Toke’s policies, Putting People First intends to privatise government businesses that are in direct competition with existing private sector initiatives. And a proposal that the business community will be looking at closely: a subsidised superannuation scheme for fulltime private sector employees.

New Kids on the Block

For the newcomers to the cut-and-thrust of national politics, there is a wide divide separating those who have some idea – often good ideas – on what policies to adopt or support in the running of a modern micro-state, to those who, realistically have nothing to offer except for that noble aim of all aims, helping the people. There are policies as wide as providing all village women with fishing rods from Merry Anno Iakopo to the sharing of fibre optics cable for a better and faster internet services from Catherine Papani amongst others. Moka Tano Puleosi echoed the policy of many to pay more than just mere lip service to Vagahau Niue.

Ida Hekesi is proposing a smart Niue economy that will deliver prosperity in the long term. ..little short on the details though. Dessyo Sioneholo is calling for better roads and public utilities – reliable electricity supply and better communications. Igasia Mokole is all for community development. Cherie Tafatu placed heritage and good governance at the top of her list. Norman Mitimeti is relying on his proven ability to walk the walk – not much talk the  talk.

Niue’s Premier Sir Toke Talagi going for his 4th Term

…One More Time

Maru Talagi really captured the attention of sports loving younger folk with his suggestion of holding the 2025 South Pacific Mini-Games here on the island. He is also calling for a re-establishment of a consular office in Auckland.

Those who have television but can’t afford a set-top box – hence cannot receive the current crop of political broadcasts – must be cheering Terry Coe for daring to suggest a free-to-air channel. [The government has 11 other channels to play around with]. Terry Coe’s preference is to fix things that are broken now, the roads for one.

Joan Viliamu prefers brevity with this single sentence: A strong advocate for women and is always an active community supporter.

Sisilia Talagi’s focus will be on Niue’s children, youth and families and to build an upskilled workforce. She wants an honours system to recognise our own people for their services.

O’love Jacobsen chose to highlight her long and distinguished career from the time when she was first elected to the Assembly to being appointed as the High Commissioner in Wellington where her longevity in the post resulted in her assuming the role as the Dean of the Diplomatic Corp. Veve Jacobsen has stated openly that she will be running for the Premiership if she is elected.

Opposition – unofficial or otherwise

The concerted approach by three standing candidates of Tatui, Sioneholo and Kalauni, has now established a process for the future that could well lead to a better organised group, something the island has not seen since the days of Sani Lakatani and the Niue People’s Action Party.  While the Niue Constitution does not provide for an Opposition there is no legal reason to prevent the formation of one – even if it is only an unofficial opposition. It is now clear that if the government, any government, is going to be challenged at a General Election, the opposition must be better organised. Only by doing so and in providing a manifesto, can they begin to gain the confidence of the electorate of their ability to offer an alternate government. An individual ad hoc approach is no longer effective.

The knight and his followers

For the out-going government, the Premier Sir Toke Talagi is doing the rounds distributing his written material and spreading the word. To some extent he is half-there already in his quest to lead the country again. All he needs to do is to highlight the achievements of his government for the past nine years, one of which must surely be the slow and painful process of weaning the nation away from the aid-mentality. Talagi has survived the bear-pit for a number of reasons. For one, he keeps his friends close and his enemies even closer, or else send them off on a diplomatic assignment. For another, he is good at organising and juggling priorities. Fix the roads or give the public servants a meaningful salary increase? No brainer really. 

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Note from the editor: On election night, we will bring to you the results of the Elections as soon as these are made available. 


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