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This website is in imminent danger of being shut down. It has been online since 1995, but the personal circumstances of the owner, Malcolm Farnsworth, are such that economies have to be made. Server costs and suchlike have become prohibitive. At the urging of people online, I have agreed to see if Patreon provides a solution. More information is available at the Patreon website. If you are able to contribute even $1.00/month to keep the site running, please click the Patreon button below.

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Ari On The Road: Bumper Sticker Politics

by Ari Sharp

Today Ari reports from an Internet Cafe just off Ben Yehuda street in Jerusalem, two blocks away from where Malki Roth, an Australian, was killed in a terrorist attack at a pizzeria in mid-2002.

Ari SharpIn Israel, life is politics, and politics is life. It is incredible that in a country of just on 6 million people, over 600,000 are members of a political party. Of those, 300,000 are members of the governing Likud party. Mathematically therefore, 1 in 20 people are members of the ruling political party. Contrast this with a more relaxed democracy such as Australia, where political party membership is well short of 1% of the population.

One of the consequences of this higher level of civic participation is that people wear their political colours with pride. Many Israelis proudly sport political bumper stickers on the back of their car, and political propaganda of one flavour or another is draped out the window of just about any prominent public place. [Read more…]

Ari On The Road: Corruption And Questionable Electoral Practices

by Ari Sharp

Today Ari reports from the Online Cafe in Eilat, Israel, the ‘Surfers Paradise of the Middle East’.

SharpIt is strange that in a country where politics in very often a matter of life and death that the smaller, more domestic issues often dominate the electoral discourse.

In the last week of campaigning, the story of terror, occupation, violence and peace has run a distant third to two other stories.

The first one revolves around serious allegations of corruption and bribery in the Likud (conservative, led by PM Ariel Sharon) primary elections held in November. Already the scandal has claimed one scalp, with now-former minister Nomi Blumenthal being sacked during the week after she exercised her right to silence in police investigations in the matter. [Read more…]

The Sharp End: The Day After The Night Before

Ari Sharp, Australian Democrats candidate for Kooyong, reports from the campaign frontline.

SharpA smartarse once said that we don’t need elections in Australia – what we need is a test of mental, physical and intellectual endurance that could only be achieved by running candidates through a series of gameshows – from the intellectualism of Sale of the Century, the physical demands of It’s a Knockout to the psychological rollercoaster of Perfect Match .. this is how our nation should choose its politicians.

Well, as is often the case, the smartarse is just about right. The challenges involved in running an election campaign both at a local and national level are incredible, with most of the responsibility falling on the shoulders of candidates and campaign managers. For most of these in a party like the Democrats, it is a job driven by passion rather than money, because, quite simply, we have no money. [Read more…]

The Sharp End: Encounters With MPs (Members Of The Public)

Ari Sharp, Australian Democrats candidate for Kooyong, reports from the campaign frontline.

SharpYou’d be amazed at the barriers that being a candidate brings down, and also the ones that it puts up.

Take the early morning train station caper. Usually, hanging around dark train station subways early in the morning would be viewed with a combination of fear and suspicion by the rush of early morning commuters.

However, by wearing a decent suit and a half decent smile, a candidate is all of a sudden free to converse with whoever wanders by, the social barrier of chatting to a complete stranger having been broken down. [Read more…]

The Sharp End: The Party Faithful

Ari Sharp, Australian Democrats candidate for Kooyong, reports from the campaign frontline.

It’s always interesting to see the bridges that are made and the bridges that are burnt during an election. [Read more…]

The Sharp End: Nominations, Lotto And Preferences

Ari Sharp, Australian Democrats candidate for Kooyong, reports from the campaign frontline.

SharpModern democracy contains a collection of quaint, but highly important, rituals.

One of the more unusual of these took place last Friday, at the Declaration of Nominations.

At 12 noon across the country, middle aged men and women across the country had their 15 minutes of fame in the draw to determine the order of the ballot paper in each House of Reps seat, and in the Senate.

In Kooyong, the draw took place in a small suburban office in Camberwell, coincidentally in the same office block as the local member. Three of the four candidates (and a few campaign hangers-on) squeezed into the office, as the Divisional Returning Officer took over his duties as the MC. [Read more…]

The Sharp End: Targeting The Voters

Ari Sharp, Australian Democrats candidate for Kooyong, reports from the campaign frontline.

SharpPeople treat you very differently when they realise you are a political candidate.

All of a sudden, you go from being “that guy in the tute group”, or “that bloke on the train” to being someone who needs to be beyond reproach, as an oracle of knowledge on all things political.

This is what we expect of our potential representatives – the ability to clearly and articulately explain what they stand for, to live a lifestyle consistent with those ideas, and to have a good grasp of the full cacophony of issues that are relevant during an election campaign. [Read more…]

Ari Sharp – Kooyong Democrats Leaflet – 2001

This is an election distributed by Ari Sharp in the federal electorate of Kooyong during the 2001 election.

Sharp was the Australian Democrats candidate in the election. [Read more…]

The Sharp End: The Work Of The Local Candidate

Ari Sharp, Australian Democrats candidate for Kooyong, reports from the campaign frontline.

SharpIt is often difficult to work out just what the role of a local candidate is in a Federal election.

In recent times, Australian politics has become overwhelmingly presidential in the way campaigns are fought and the way that the media covers a campaign.

A presidential campaign is one in which the leaders of the major parties are the central figures, and the election is considered a battle of competing personalities rather than parties or ideologies. Parties invest large amounts in developing profile and recognition of their leaders, and this is put to the test come election time. [Read more…]

The Sharp End: Everything Has Changed Since August

Ari Sharp, Australian Democrats candidate for Kooyong, reports from the campaign frontline.

SharpFor months we all thought we knew the terms that this coming federal election would be fought on.

Following on from successive anti-conservative votes in Western Australia, Queensland, Ryan and the Northern Territory, it seemed that Howard would be fighting against a tide of change, pissing into the wind, as more poetic people might put it.

Most of us even thought we knew the election date, with the Constitution, various state elections and CHOGM commitments leaving only a few possible Saturdays. [Read more…]