O’Love, or Veve, Jacobsen has been winning elections in Niue for the past 35 years, apart from a spell when she was the country’s high commissioner to New Zealand.

She came fifth of the six successful candidates on the common roll at the weekend, in an election that brings a lot of new MPs, including six women, into parliament.

Speaking with RNZ Pacific’s Don Wiseman, Jacobsen said the new parliament will be refreshed with more youthful candidates coming through the ranks.

“When I was going around in my campaign and realised we have got these young people coming through, which is good because Niue does not have party politics whereby you can groom people to come through,” the veteran MP said.

“We are basically 20 independent people that are in parliament. So you basically learn the ropes; you swim or you drown. I have managed to stay above water and have lasted this long and I think I am doing something right,” she said.

“But at the same time, the younger people coming through also thinking maybe it is time for some of these veteran politicians to bow out and let them have a go [and] that is fine, but I think it is important for parliament to have a good mix [of MPs].”

The longtime politician also thinks incumbent premier Dalton Tagelagi deserves more time at the top, but she could still stand against him.

The 20 MPs are to meet soon to select a premier and Jacobsen said Tagelagi had his entire term upset by Colvid-19, which arrived just as he was elected in 2020.

But Jacobsen said if no one else challenges him when he stands then she will because she wants to ensure that democracy is seen.

“If he were to stand again unchallenged and no-one challenges the leadership role, I am going to put my name down because I think it is important that democracy is seen to be observed at all levels in politics.”

She said she would like to “test the waters” since there is a record number of women in the parliament, along with a number of new, young men.

Meanwhile, Jacobsen also wants the incoming parliament to change the rules to ensure votes are still cast even if a candidate is standing unopposed.

Niue has 14 village seats in its parliament and as the island’s population has got smaller the numbers of voters in the villages is now often miniscule.

In the past election, six of those village MPs were returned unopposed.

Jacobsen said Niue is adhering to a 1966 colonial law under which these MPs are “duly elected” if there are no other candidates.

But she said for the sake of democracy being observed, villagers should still register their votes – something she said is written into Niue’s 1974 constitution.

“It is already provided for in the constitution where it says that the member shall be elected by the electors of that constituency. So even if it is one person the whole village will still go to the polls and cast their vote,” she said.