Preferences may prove crucial
The campaign for Eden-Monaro began long before former Prime Minister Gillard announced that the election would be held on 14 September. With Prime Minister Rudd having now brought that date forward by a week, the race for one of Australia’s most watched seats has sharpened.
Because of the attention given to the seat as a key bellwether, it tends to draw a large field of candidates. There are already six announced candidates and preferences from minor parties or high profile independents can play a large part in determining the outcome of the seat and possibly the government.
Among the candidates whose preferences could be crucial are the Greens’ Catherine Moore, a former Palerang councillor who has stood for both the state and federal seat in previous elections, and Cooma-Monaro Mayor Dean Lynch, who is standing for Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party.
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So, what is a bellwether?
It’s the term that comes up every election, usually in the same breath as ‘Eden-Monaro’, which has been held by the party winning government since the 1970s. But do we know where it comes from? The word itself was first used in 15th century England, a contraction of the two separate words ‘bell’ and ‘wether’. The ‘lead sheep’ in any flock was belled. Where that sheep – a wether – went, the flock followed.
Who says politicians treat us like sheep?