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…]