6 Sep 2004

The Cook Islands gear up for this week's general elections

7:30 am on 6 September 2004

The final preparations for the general elections have begun in the Cook Islands with just 48 hours to go before voters head to the polls.

The two major parties are expected to do well but they will face competition from a lineup of independents.

Linda Skates reports from Rarotonga.

"There are eleven independents out of the 57 candidates standing for 24 seats. The independents include four women, three of whom are linked to the Group for Political Change, or GPC, which has been pushing for widespread political reform. It's had some success - an overseas seat has been abolished and an MPs superannuation scheme dumped. And a referendum is being held which proposes shortening parliament from a five to a four year term. But it's uncertain whether that will translate into votes for those independents. One political analyst says people will still vote on party lines, leaving it a two horse race between the ruling Democratic party and the Cook Islands party."

This is Linda Skates reporting from Rarotonga.