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Assange's WikiLeaks Party running-mate departs in blaze of glory

Oz politician's angry resignation letter says 6-fingered one was never at meetings

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Arguments over how the Australian political party founded by Julian AssangeTM, the WikiLeaks Party, directs votes in the Australian Senate have prompted the resignation of high-profile candidate and Assange's running mate in Victoria, Leslie Cannold, who announced today: "To keep being a candidate feels like I'm breaking faith with the Australian people."

Cannold tendered her resignation today (PDF), along with National Council member Daniel Matthews and others.

Author and academic Cannold's departure came hours after the party announced “an independent review” into the processes – or failures of process – that led to the party giving its voting “likes” to an extreme right-wing party in preference to allies The Greens in New South Wales, and putting the candidates for the Shooters and Fishers Party and conservative Australia First Party ahead of Greens senator and Assange advocate Scott Ludlam in Western Australia.

The Western Australia decision was later explained by Assange as an affirmative action decision to give a preference to an Aborigine, David Wirripanda.

However, neither Assange's explanation nor the review were satisfactory to Cannold. In her resignation letter, published by local outlet Crikey, she says: “By staying in this role I am implicitly vouching for the worthiness of this party to receive the votes of the Australian people. I can no longer do this because I no longer believe it is true, and so I must resign.”

Earlier in the letter, the politician explicitly says that both the preferencing decisions and the processes that followed violated the stated principles of the party: “By being in this role I am implicitly making a statement that The WikiLeaks Party is what it claims to be: a democratically run party that both believes in transparency and accountability, and operates in this way.”

Over a period of weeks, she writes, during debates over preferences, "there have been consistent challenges to the rights of the National Council, the 11-person democratic governing body of The WikiLeaks Party, to do its job: to make democratic, transparent and accountable decisions".

The preferencing decisions, she says, demonstrate problems with the "capacity of the party to sustain its democratic processes". Cannold also says that an unnamed individual sought to create a “power centre” outside the party's processes, telephoning party volunteers to try to curry support for decision-making outside the National Council.

“[W]here a party member makes a bid to subvert the party's own processes, asking others to join in a secret, alternative power centre that subverts the properly constituted one, nothing makes sense anymore,” Cannold's statement read.

Secret subversives?

Cannold told Australian ABC radio's PM programme that she – and other party members – had seen the email announcing the National Council's decision regarding preferencing, and said that the Council's wishes were only followed in Victoria, not in NSW or Western Australia.

“That was not what was supposed to happen, and that is what happened on the ground anyway,” she said.

“I'm not going to speculate on what happened,” she said. “The democratic decision was to do X, and X didn't happen – that's the problem … there is a collective concern about a variety of decisions that have been made.

“I couldn't have taken this decision more seriously, but in the end … I couldn't do anything else,” she told PM.

While she did not identify which member or members she accuses of trying to “subvert” the WikiLeaks Party processes, it does not immediately seem obvious to The Register that anybody who isn't close to the top of the party could wield sufficient clout to be an effective subversive.

Cannold's departure comes too late to have her name removed from the ballots in Victoria, which is bound to cause some voter confusion.

The academic's assertion that other resignations would follow has proven true within a single afternoon, with National Council member Daniel Matthews quitting over the preferences issue. He provides a detailed outline of his reasons here.

As well as the preference deals, Matthews complains of disinterest by Assange: "National Council meetings have been held at least weekly for several months. Until last Friday, Julian had attended precisely one meeting."

The resignations continued later, with this statement announcing six further resignations including four WikiLeaks Party National Council members. The joint statement says "after clear attempts today to subvert this democratic process we no longer believes it is possible to hold the internal democratic process and this makes our involvement in The WikiLeaks Party untenable". ®

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