Assange's WikiLeaks Party Launches to Apathy In Australia

The WikiLeaks Party launches to weak polling numbers and general apathy in what is to be a close election in Australia.

Julian Assange, back in his wild hair days

Julian Assange, shown here in 2009, just formally announced the WikiLeaks Party in Australia. (Source:  New Media Days, under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license)

In a story that has been long buzzed about in tech, news, and political junkie circles, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange finally made the commitment of entering politics in his homeland of Australia.  Using surrogates in his homeland, he formally registered the WikiLeaks Party to the Australian Electoral Commission, which was completed on July 1.  He formally launched the party today in an editorial in The Australian newspaper.  The WikiLeaks Party's plan is to have seven members, including Assange, stand for election in the Australian Senate in the states of Western Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria.  The election, not yet announced, is due by law on or before November 30.

However, you would not really know this if you lived in Australia itself.  While news and tech outlets around the world chattered about Assange's attempt at entering politics, none of the major news outlets in Australia, be it the Sydney Morning Herald, Nine News, or ABC News, provided any coverage at all of the WikiLeaks Party announcement.  Even the Australian, the largest national newspaper (though with a smaller circulation than local newspapers in the big cities), who published Assange's announcement, left it in the opinion section, kind of obscured from the top fold on their website.  Part of this may have to do with the fact that the WikiLeaks Party has been formally registered for more than a month.  But a bigger part of it, and Assange's major problem in trying to stand for election, is that people just do not care.  Yes, they do care about the election, which has maintained its presence as a top story, especially after Kevin Rudd's ouster of Julia Gillard as both Prime Minister of Australia and Labor Party leader has made the election too close to call between the leftist Labor Party and rightist Liberal-National Coalition.  They just don't care about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

The polling numbers do not look promising for WikiLeaks and Assange:  Currently, the WikiLeaks Party does not earn enough in polling numbers to have its own category, and has been lumped together with a few other small parties in polling as "Other."  In the most recent polls, "Other" is averaging 8%.  Given that, due to the nature of Australia's voting system, Assange would possibly only need about 2% of the vote to earn his seat, there still exists a chance that he will earn his seat.  But it is a slim chance.  Just don't tell that to the techies who still worship Assange, who is hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London currently because he is facing an investigation in Sweden over a possible rape, and will be extradited if he leaves.