All 33 councillors have been elected, following a marathon count. No one faction will have a majority on the 2019 council. Instead, Chinese international student group Panda will control 11 votes, followed closely by far-left Switchroots with eight votes. Shake Up, a Modlib branding, will have four councillors. Labor’s Reboot and Advance, another Chinese international student faction, will have three councillors each. A mixture of far-right Liberals and Socialist Alternative members fill the remaining seats.
This will make for an interesting Repselect. Shake Up and Panda, who worked together during the election, control 15 votes between them . If the far-right Liberals work with their moderate cousins, a Liberal-Panda alliance would wield 18 votes—enough for a majority. Labor, who did a preference deal with Panda’s Jacky He (now president-elect), may well decide to join Panda and the Libs.
Even if Labor doesn’t enter this alliance, the traditional left won’t be able to control council on its own. Switchroots, Labor and the Socialist Alternative have 12 councillors between them. Adding the three seats won by Advance, who tend to work with Switchroots, makes for a total of only 15—two shy of a majority. If any of these leftwing groups want to win major exec roles at Repselect, a deal with Panda or the Libs is looking essential.
Your council for 2019
Why should you care?
Council is a notoriously inactive institution: it’s meant to convene ten times a year, but its meetings are often cancelled when too few councillors show up. When it does meet, its deliberations are usually restricted to ideological debates.
But council has one crucial role: the first meeting of a new council is held about a month after the elections, and its here that the councillors elect the SRC executive for the next year. This meeting is called Repselect, and it’s been known to devolve into glorious shitfights. That’s because every exec position, other than president, comes up for a vote—and it’s these position that have the most active role in determining the SRC’s direction.
Being on exec also comes with its perks: some roles, like the directors of student publications, offer nothing but a CV line and the joyous task of reading through each edition of Honi before it goes to print. Others, like general secretary, come with a hefty stipend—about $13,500 per year.
So stupol factions have big incentives to win as many exec roles as possible. Whether they can do so depends on council’s make up. To elect your chosen candidate to an exec role, you need a majority of council votes—but it’s nearly unheard of or one faction to have a majority, or 17 councillors, on its own. That means factions negotiate, back-room deals are done, backs are stabbed, and loose coalitions are formed. The more councillors a faction has, the more bargaining power it has to get what it wants.