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Assange will struggle to win Senate seat: poll

Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks Party has generated considerable interest among voters but probably not enough for him to be elected to the Senate, a new poll shows.

Support for Assange and the WikiLeaks Party was highest in Victoria, where 22 per cent of those knowing about him said they would consider voting for him.

This equates to 15 per cent of all Victorians, according to the Fairfax-Nielsen poll.

In a half-Senate election, a candidate needs just over 14 per cent of the vote to be elected, so Assange would win a Senate seat in Victoria without preferences only if every voter considering voting for him actually did.

Assange is running for a Victorian Senate seat in this year’s election but will be unable to campaign here because he is confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The WikiLeaks founder has been granted political asylum after losing court challenges to prevent him being sent to Sweden to answer sexual assault allegations.

Two polling experts rated the WikiLeaks Party's electoral chances as ‘‘highly unlikely’’.


‘‘I think his candidacy looks credible from these numbers but I still think on those numbers it would be a very big ask to win,’’ said Nielsen pollster John Stirton.

‘‘He’s in the ballpark of the support he needs but he’s got to convert every single one ... and I think that’s highly unlikely.’’

The ABC’s election analyst, Antony Green, said Assange was ‘‘in the mix’’ but only if ‘‘lots of other minor parties’’ gave him their preferences. Assange’s chances on first preferences were ‘‘about nil’’.

Mr Green expects the WikiLeaks Party to win about 3 per cent of the vote nationally and perhaps 4 per cent in Victoria.The WikiLeaks Party stands for ‘‘truthfulness and the free flow of information’’, according to its website. Its 11-person national council includes a mathematician, a scientist, a digital archivist and a social media consultant with the Sea Shepherd anti-whaling group.

To win a Senate seat, Assange needs to steal votes from left-leaning parties but the state he is running in – Victoria – is also the state with the most resilient support for Labor and the Greens.

‘‘It’s the one state where Assange doesn’t put a left seat at risk,’’ Mr Green said.

Nationally, 69 per cent of voters say they know ‘‘a lot’’ or ‘‘a little’’ about Assange and WikiLeaks, and of these 19 per cent would consider voting for the party.

This equates to about 13 per cent support across the whole population. So even if every voter that considered voting for WikiLeaks actually did, the party would still need to rely on preferences.

Support for Assange and WikiLeaks was second highest in NSW, with about 14 per cent of the population saying they would consider voting for the party, and lowest in the ACT, with only 5 per cent of the population.

The national poll has a margin of error of 2.6 per cent and the state figures have a margin of error of about 5 per cent.


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