Counting for the 2017 City of Greater Geelong Council Elections is finally underway.
As far as possible outcomes are concerned, as reported in the local media, there is a clear front-runner in each ward who are almost certain to be elected to Council; those being Eddy Kontelj in Brownbill Ward, Stephanie Asher in Bellarine Ward, Bruce Harwood in Kardinia Ward and Anthony Aitken in Windermere Ward. All are above or nearing a quota in their own right in their respective wards.
The unpredictability of this election will come down to the lack of any pattern or consistency with regards to preferences. There is a slight tendency for voters giving their first preference to right-leaning candidates to preference other centre-right candidates over left-leaning candidates; however, voters voting for left-leaning candidates tend to be preferencing more conservatively - that is, voting '1' for one of the left-leaning candidates, then ranking one or more of the right-leaning candidates higher over the other left-leaning candidates.
This even rings true to those who ran on tickets - for example, in Brownbill Ward, people voting '1' for Sue Bull, who ran with Sarah Hathway for Socialist Alliance, are not putting the latter at number 2, and the same is true for those voting for Sarah Hathway not putting Sue Bull at number 2. On the contrary, people voting for Eddy Kontelj tend to be putting Freya Fidge at number 2, and vice versa, which formed a basis for their respective campaigns.
The lack of tight preferencing discipline on the progressive side, and the more disciplined preferencing on the conservative side comes down to the fact that most of the more conservative candidates had more money at their disposal for advertisements and promotions than most of the progressive candidates did. This allowed them to get their preference recommendations out to voters more effectively.
It will also pose the biggest problem for progressive candidates getting elected. In Brownbill Ward, for instance, Greens endorsed candidate Sarah Mansfield will likely take out 15%+ of the first preference vote - placing second on primaries but well below a quota (25%), however, without a strong direct flow of preferences, which on early indications she is unlikely to receive for the reasons mentioned above, she will likely be pipped for the final seat by another candidate - likely Michael King - who is getting strong preference flows. Both Freya Fidge and Peter Murrihy are also benefiting heavily from strong reference flows.
In any case, below are my predictions as to who will get elected in each ward. As you can see, it will be a rather conservative council with one or two progressive voices.
- Stephanie Asher ✔
- Jim Mason ✔
- Anne Brackley X
- Eddy Kontelj ✔
- Peter Murrihy ✔
- Michael King X
- Bruce Harwood ✔
- Ron Nelson ✔
- Pat Murnane ✔
- Anthony Aitken ✔
- Kylie Grzybek ✔
But, we will know for sure by this Saturday.
Update: Successfully calling 9 out of 11 isn't bad.
About the author:
Matt Hrkac is a writer and activist based in Geelong who regularly contributes to Green Left Weekly. He has particular interests in politics, elections and the trade union movement and has had extensive involvement in a number of local campaigns. He is a former member of the Greens.