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Assange an outside chance in Australian vote: poll

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 14:10

Sydney: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stands very little chance of winning a seat in Australia`s national elections, according to a poll published Tuesday, showing only modest support for his campaign.

Australian-born Assange intends to run for the upper house Senate in elections on September 14, with his WikiLeaks Party announcing earlier this month that they intend to field candidates in at least three states.

His campaign director Greg Barns had previously said the party, which is running on a platform of "standing up to the powerful and shining a light on injustice and corruption", was "certainly in the mix" to win a few seats.

Assange himself gave an upbeat assessment of his prospects last week in a telephone address to Washington, saying bookmakers had him as a better prospect than the deeply unpopular ruling centre-left Labor Party.

But a Nielsen poll of voters published online Tuesday in Fairfax newspapers showed Assange had only an outside chance of victory, with just 15 percent support in the southern state of Victoria where he intends to run for a seat.

Under Australian law a nominee must receive more than 14 percent of the vote to be elected, meaning that every single person who says they will consider voting for him will have to follow through.

Assange will also need to rely on the support of minor parties endorsing him in the event that they do not receive enough votes to continue through to a second-round count.

Nielsen`s Research Director John Stirton said it was a "big ask".

"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," Stirton told Fairfax.

"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."

Respected electoral analyst Antony Green said that without the support of "lots" of minor parties giving Assange their votes in the event they are knocked out of the running, his chances of winning are "about nil".

Green, a veteran expert with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, said he expected WikiLeaks to get about four percent of the total vote in Victoria -- the state in which Assange is most popular -- and three percent nationwide.

According to the Nielsen poll of 1,400 respondents conducted from April 11-13, 69 percent of Australians said they knew "a lot" or "a little" about Assange and WikiLeaks.

Of these, 19 percent said they would consider voting for the whistleblowing party -- equivalent to about 13 percent of the overall population.

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June after he was granted asylum but denied free passage by British authorities out of the country.

He is wanted for questioning in Sweden over sex assault allegations but fears if handed over he will be passed onto the United States for his controversial diplomatic memo leaks.


First Published: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 14:10
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