The parliament building of the Cook Islands, formerly a hotel.
The politics of the Cook Islands takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic associated state, whereby the Queen of New Zealand, represented in the Cook Islands by the Queen's Representative, is Head of State and the Chief Minister is the head of government. There is a pluriform multi-party system and the islands are self-governing in free association with New Zealand and fully responsible for both internal and external affairs. New Zealand no longer has any responsibility for external affairs. As of 2005, it has diplomatic relations in its own name with eighteen other countries. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament of the Cook Islands.

The Cook Islands are not United Nations full members but participate in WHO and UNESCO, and are an associate member of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.