Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, as reported last month by the Times of Israel , has announced that Australia will hold its upcoming General Election on 14 September, which this year falls on Yom Kippur.
It has been expected that the election would be on a Saturday, as is required by law, between August and October of this year. However, most other dates were ruled out in September, as they clashed with finals weeks of the Australian Football League and National Rugby League, extremely important days for most Australians.
The Prime Minister obviously therefore felt that an election on Yom Kippur would have the least impact on the vast majority of the population. This is no doubt correct with elections always falling on a Saturday, so although there has been some noise of complaints from the Jewish Community, most people realise that given that it is possible to vote early or by post, the democratic rights of the Jewish Community will not be harmed in any way.
However, Dr. Danny Lamm, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, made an interesting comment when he was quoted by Jewish Australian news website J-Wire as saying that the Yom Kippur election date is problematic for “Jewish candidates who would have wished to be active at polling booths on Election Day.” As Australia has a handful of actively Jewish Members of Parliament, they may be concerned about campaigning on Yom Kippur, not least Michael Danby, the current MP for Melbourne Ports.
Michael Danby has been a vocal advocate for Israel during his political career and most recently fell out with much of his Labor Party colleagues over the decision by the Australian Government not to oppose the Palestinian bid for Statehood at the UN. Mr Danby’s continued support for Israel, I am speculating, may have cost him the support of some of his Labor activists, a sub-group of Australian society likely to be most against Israel.
Michael Danby, I assume would therefore be relying on his supporters from the Jewish community to help his campaign for re-election this coming September. However, many of his Jewish supporters, particularly if they are less religious, while previously not minding to campaign on a Shabbat for his election, may draw the line at helping his campaign on Yom Kippur. In deed Michael Danby himself has said that he will not campaign this year on election day. Therefore hinting to his Jewish supporters that maybe they should also not. While, non-Jewish supporters he was relying on for his campaign may lose their enthusiasm when they see he and his friends are not campaigning. I believe this Yom Kippur election, could cost Michael Danby dearly, in what is traditionally seen as a safe Labour seat.