In the recent local elections of Victoria, Australia, socialist candidates won seats in Yarra and Moreland (covered by Grant Brookes here: http://tinyurl.com/a7gbcxl.) Yarra Socialist Party councillor Stephen Jolly won his seat for the third time. Writer for The Spark Ian Anderson interviewed Socialist Party member Mel Gregson.
The Spark: So the Socialist Party retained its council seat for Stephen Jolly, and lost its council seat for Anthony Main. Can you break that down a bit more?
MG: The campaign in Yarra was very successful with almost 1 in 5 voters across the city voting for us. We stood a team of five candidates, including current councillors Stephen Jolly and Anthony Main.
Our vote increased across all three wards, with Stephen Jolly topping the polls with 34.24% (the quota to be elected outright is 25%). Anthony Main stood in a different ward to which he was a councillor, where residents are being overrun by inappropriate development. There we increased our vote from 2.13% to 11.74%, with Anthony just missing out on re-election by a very small margin. In the other ward we almost doubled our vote to 10.81%.
The Spark: What is your political purpose in running electoral campaigns?
MG: The primary reason the Socialist Party stand in elections is to raise socialist ideas as an alternative to the pro-capitalist, neo-liberal policies of the main political parties. With class struggle at historic lows in Australia the level of political debate is also at a low, we believe that engaging with people at election time through standing candidates, debating the other parties and distributing political material can play a role in developing the level of political discussion.
In Yarra we have been able to take this to the next level by having some of our candidates elected to council. Through our work in Yarra over the last eight years we’ve been able to demonstrate socialist ideas in action. In this area we have been able to redefine the term ‘socialist’ from what many believed to be a stale, failed ideology into a positive term that people associate with the best class fighters and community campaigners in the area. Read the rest of this entry »