Elections: Progressive advance shows there’s a mood for change

May 26, 2022
Sue Bolton (right) with a supporter on polling day. Photo: Supplied

The federal election result has been welcomed by progressives, not only because it is the end of almost a decade of conservative rule.

The Greens won a swing and more seats. The teal independents succeeded in winning seats from high-profile Coalition MPs, including Josh Frydenburg. Further, there was a small but important rise in the socialist vote.

The Greens have won at least two, possibly three, seats in the Brisbane area on the back of more than 14 months of campaigning with a radical platform. This is in addition to Greens leader Adam Bandt’s seat of Melbourne and an outside chance they may pick up another seat.

The Greens will also have 12 Senators making the party the third biggest in Australian politics.

While still modest, the rise in the vote for socialists indicates that more people are looking for an alternative to the left of the Greens.

Socialist Alliance (SA) volunteers in Melbourne included those who had previously campaigned for Labor, shifted from the Greens and, in this election, helped SA.

Two socialist parties stood in Victoria — SA and Victorian Socialists (VS).

In Wills, SA’s Sue Bolton (3.72%) and VS’s Emma Black (3.22%) received a combined vote of almost 7%. Wills includes the inner-city suburb of Brunswick, up to the suburbs of Fawkner and Glenroy in the north.

SA polled more than 7% in all of the Fawkner booths, with the Fawkner Primary School booth drawing 12.6% of the vote. Also in Melbourne, Jerome Small in Calwell and Catherine Robertson in Fraser (VS) won 4.49% and 5.19% respectively.

In Geelong, SA’s Sue Bull won 2.66% of the vote. In the poorest part of the electorate, she received more than 4%.

The combined socialist vote of SA and the Victorian Socialists in the Victorian Senate was 18,696 votes (0.75%) at time of writing. VS lead Senate candidate Aran Mylvaganam, a campaigner for refugee rights and active in the Tamil community, scored 0.55%.

Trailblazing First Nations lawyer and magistrate Pat O’Shane won 4.2% of the vote for SA in the seat of Leichhardt in Queensland, which includes Cairns, Cape York and the Torres Strait.

In the Queensland Senate, SA scored 6946 votes (0.35%), six times greater than in 2013, the previous time SA contested, and more than double the highest tally won in 2013 when the late Uncle Sam Watson headed the ticket.

SA’s Andrew Chuter won 1.5% in the seat of Sydney, more than doubling SA’s vote in the previous election. Sam Wainwright won 1.2% in Fremantle, improving on the 2019 vote.

At the time of writing, SA had received nearly 20,000 Senate votes in the four states it contested.

These results show that through grassroots community activism and outreach, socialist and progressive ideas can win popular support.

[Alex Salmon and Sue Bolton are members of the Socialist Alliance and ran in the Western Australia Senate and in Wills in Melbourne, respectively.]

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