Despite a strong start, it is looking likely that Julian Assange has lost his bid in securing a Senate seat in Victoria. With more than 60 percent of the total number of ballots counted, Julian Assange managed to secure 1.18 percent of the vote (at the time of writing). While it is a great start for the Wikileaks Party, it won’t win a seat in the Senate because of preferences.
I should stress that the vote is still being counted, that I am not an election analyst, and the final result won’t be known for days due to the complex method in calculating the winners. However, based on the calculations made by the ABC, the Wikileaks Party isn’t getting any preferences from nearly all the minor parties since they have opted to swap preferences amongst each other – essentially meaning that it won’t reach the required quota to win a seat.
The only party that has put Assange anywhere in a position to receive their preferences – the Pirate Party – put them third after the Democrats. And even then, if the ABC’s calculations are correct, they won’t even receive those preferences because they’ll be eliminated before the Democrats.
In other Senate races, the Wikileaks Party has made some traction but not enough to win a Senate seat. The party is polling at 0.81 percent of the total vote in New South Wales (with more than 68 percent of the votes counted, at the time of writing); while in Western Australia, it has managed to get 0.71 percent of the vote (with nearly half of the total vote counted, at the time of writing).
The Wikileaks Party made some bold predictions before election day – saying that Victoria would be a contest between the Wikileaks Party and the Greens for the sixth seat. “Early polls suggested that Julian could potentially get as much as 27 per cent of the vote, but such polls are only as good as the sample they are based on… But it is unlikely that anything like 27 per cent will be achieved as a primary vote,” its WA Senate candidate and election ‘analyst’, Gerry Georgatos, wrote in a Wikileaks Party blog post.
“More likely Julian and the Victorian Greens candidate will be in a head to head competition for primary votes and whoever comes out best of the two in the primary vote will secure the sixth spot.”
However, it appears it was likely a race for the sixth spot by the Wikileaks Party and all of the other minor parties that are not Green. According to ABC predictions, the minor single-issue Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party could hold the balance of power – a shock to probably many.
But all eyes will be looking on Western Australia, where the Wikileaks Party controversially placed the Nationals before the Greens in their Senate preferences. Many people speculated that this could hurt Senator Scott Ludlam, who is a supporter of Assange and is up for reelection. The Wikileaks Party said that their preferences won’t have an impact on Ludlam, and that he would move up to fifth spot.
“Scott, secure with the primary vote, will move to 5th position, and the battle for the last vacant spot, in the event that Louise drops out, will be between WikiLeaks and the Nationals. Neither are a threat to Scott, and it is disingenuous to claim otherwise. It is not the Greens battling the Nationals for the last spot, the battle is between WikiLeaks and the Nationals,” Georgatos wrote.
“There is mutual respect between David Wirripanda [WA Nationals Senator] and myself for the work we do in the community, and we need more of this work. In the event that Labor holds its number 2 candidate, then David and I will finish up in either 7th or 8th spots and miss out.”
Early calculations by the ABC show that Ludlam has secured his seat, but in sixth position – counter to what Georgatos wrote. Like I said, it is too early to call who won the six Senate seats for Western Australia. However, once all the counting has been done and finalised, it would be interesting to see how much or little damage the Wikileaks Party preferences had done to Ludlam’s reelection efforts.
Troubles in the campaign
Despite being a minor party, it got some attention in the media – namely because of the name of Julian Assange – and many people hoped for his party to do well in the Senate due to his work with Wikileaks. However, the campaign was derailed after the controversial preferences decisions that saw, as mentioned above, the Greens preferenced below the Nationals in Western Australia; but also preferenced below the Shooters and Fishers and far-right Australia First parties in New South Wales.
It was further damaged by internal infighting that saw its second candidate Leslie Cannold, who would take the seat in place of Assange in case he could not leave the Ecuadorian Embassy, and several National Council members resign from their positions. They said that someone in the party – revealed to be Assange’s father and National Secretary John Shipton by a former staffer – wanted to bypass the National Council. Shipton also wanted to delay the promised review into the preferences decision until after the election, and wanted it to be non-independent.
“As long as I believed there was a chance that democracy, transparency and accountability could prevail in the party I was willing to stay on and fight for it. But where a party member makes a bid to subvert the party’s own processes, asking others to join in a secret, alternative power centre that subverts the properly constituted one, nothing makes sense anymore,” Cannold wrote in her resignation letter a few weeks ago.
“This is an unacceptable mode of operation for any organization but even more so for an organization explicitly committed to democracy, transparency and accountability.”
In response, Assange said he took full responsibility over the infighting in the party – saying he overdelegated due to his work with Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. He told the ABC, “I made a decision two months ago to spend a lot of my time on dealing with the Edward Snowden asylum situation and trying to save the life of [Chelsea Manning].”
“Now, the result is over-delegation, so I admit and I accept full responsibility for over-delegating functions to the Australian party while I tried to take care of those situations. It’s not easy obviously being a party leader at a distance with a nine-hour time delay.”
This is probably unrelated, but Assange also appeared this YouTube video:
Yes, very cringeworthy indeed.