Breaking down the Inner West Council results

I’ve been paying quite a bit of attention to the Inner West Council results. It’s my former council area, but it’s also one of the most interesting councils. The Labor, Liberal and Greens parties all feature prominently, along with a wide variety of independents.

I’ve also written a piece for the Parramatta Sun about the Parramatta and Cumberland council results which I’ll share here when it’s posted.

The overall result in Inner West is not quite clear. Labor and Greens have each won at least five seats, along with progressive independent Pauline Lockie and two Liberals. Two other seats are in play.

Conservative independent Vic Macri is 171 votes ahead of progressive independent Victoria Pye in Marrickville ward. Second Labor candidate Linda Kelly, Liberal candidate Stephen Meates and independent John Stamolis are only separated by 54 votes – one of them will be knocked out first, and their preferences will decide the race between the other two.

Labor in the inner west has a history of forming governing alliances with the Liberal Party and conservative independents like Vic Macri. The Greens, meanwhile, have a better relationship with a string of independents who contested four of the five wards, and cooperated with each other in a variety of ways.

If Stamolis and Pye win their seats, there’s a plausible path to a working majority for the Greens and the independents they have been able to cooperate with. If Macri, Kelly or Meates win, that won’t be the case, and Labor will have the option to work with the Liberals, and possibly Macri. If Macri and Kelly both win, it’s plausible that Labor could form an alliance with the two independents and without the Liberals, but that will be hard to pull off. Of course, it’s also possible that Labor and the Greens would cooperate and share the mayoralty between the two bigger parties, as they have done recently in Leichhardt.

I’ve been looking at the swings at a ward level, and it’s very interesting.

Ward ALP GRN LIB OTH ALP sw GRN sw LIB sw
Ashfield 34.7 33.4 19.9 12.1 0.0 13.4 -5.3
Balmain 42.7 22.4 17.5 17.3 11.6 -10.2 -10.2
Leichhardt 31.4 27.9 27.1 13.6 4.8 -0.4 -2.4
Marrickville 29.0 29.2 9.8 22.8 -8.0 1.4 -6.2
Stanmore 28.8 34.3 12.4 24.5 -4.4 -2.1 -4.9

The trend is very interesting, and not consistent between the five wards.

Labor did particularly well in Balmain, where former Leichhardt mayor Darcy Byrne ran explicitly as Labor’s ‘mayoral candidate’, and gained an 11.6% swing, and was the only group to poll over 40% in any ward. Labor gained a smaller swing in Leichhardt, and had no change in Ashfield. Labor lost ground south of Parramatta Road, losing 8% in Marrickville, where former Marrickville mayor Sam Iskandar headed the ticket.

There’s similarly large differences in the swing for the Greens. The Greens vote stayed largely steady in Leichhardt, Marrickville and Stanmore wards, ranging from a -2.1% swing in Stanmore, to a 1.4% swing in Marrickville.

The Greens vote shot up in the Ashfield ward. The Greens did not stand in the South ward of Ashfield in 2012, so that slightly exaggerates the swing, but in real terms the vote was higher in this ward than in three other wards. While it was a large swing, it’s worth noting that this ward isn’t just the old Ashfield council. It only covers areas south of the railway line, so doesn’t include Haberfield or northern Ashfield. It also includes all of Dulwich Hill. Dulwich Hill and Summer Hill have traditionally been better for the Greens than Ashfield proper. Having said all of that, it probably suggests that the gradual demographic change and gentrification in these areas has had a flow-on effect in local politics.

The real shocker for the Greens was in the Balmain ward. The Greens have performed much better this area in past elections at state and local levels, with the Greens winning the seat of Balmain in 2011 and 2015. The Greens primary vote dropped by 10.2% compared to the 2012 local government election, crashing to just 22%. This is the only ward in Inner West where the Greens failed to poll a full quota. The Greens vote in 2012 was over 32%, but even that was a low point compared to 2008, when Greens councillors Jamie Parker and Michelle McKenzie polled 39% and 41% respectively in the overlapping wards.

Labor Balmain candidate Darcy Byrne had a high profile, and the area has been shifting towards the Liberals, but even still it’s a surprisingly poor result. The Greens suffered double-digit swings in six booths in the ward, coming third in a number of booths, and even coming fourth in one booth. It should be a real cause for concern.

For those of you who are interested in diving further into the results, I’ve made a map which lets you toggle between the primary votes for the four biggest blocs in the council election, along with the swing to and from the Greens.

About Ben Raue

Ben Raue is the founder and author of the Tally Room. If you like this post, please consider donating to support the Tally Room.