Wikileaker-in-Chief Julian Assange's campaign to win a seat in Australia's Senate has almost certainly failed, with the Wikileaks party securing just 0.62 per cent of the nine million votes counted in the nation's election.
Assange has done a little better in the State of Victoria, with his party picking up a little over 25,000 votes and 1.18 per cent of the vote. To win a seat in the Senate at this election a candidate needs one sixth of the vote in the State in which they run. Once a candidate gains that “quota” of votes, any other votes for that candidate pass to a voter's second preference. With about a million votes still to be counted in Victoria, it appears this system may result in a candidate from the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party winning a seat with fewer than half the votes the Wikileaks Party has won, a situation made possible by the fact no major party was willing to send preferences Assange's way.
Assange had hoped that election to Australia's Senate would make it easier for him to finish his extended couch surfing stint in Ecuador's embassy and come home. Few felt the plan was viable as Australian parliamentarians don't enjoy legal privileges that would have allowed Assange to escape the tender ministrations of UK authorities.
Not all is lost for the Wikileaks Party, as it more than doubled the vote of the Pirate Party to become Australia's most popular party with an agenda based around issues of internet transparency. It also, however, won fewer votes than the Help End Marijuana Prohibition Party and the Australian Sex Party, making it a fringe player even on the fringes of Australia's left.
The election resulted in a change of government, with the right-of-centre Liberal/National coalition deposing the Labor Party. The new government will have a majority in the House of Representatives, but will struggle to get its agenda through the Senate where four or five seats seem set to go to populist right-of-centre candidates. ®
One new likely Senator, Glenn Lazarus, is known as “The brick with eyes” thanks to his storied career as a Rugby League prop forward (North American readers need to imagine a 240-pounder who combines the positions of tailback and defensive tackle). Lazarus represents the Palmer United Party, whose titular leader Clive Palmer looks set to win a seat in the House of Representatives.
Palmer is controversial for many reasons, not least his attempt to build an exact replica of the Titanic and his conversion of a posh Queensland resort into a home for dozens of animatronic dinosaurs.
And yes, before you ask: Vulture South does realise readers are chuckling at Australia after reading the above. But those dinosaurs need sysadmins, so celebrate some new gigs for a brother before laughing too loud, okay?