Preference deals: the latest addition to Courtyard’s winter menu
Pumpkin spice lattes on tap. Scarves flapping in the wind. Sunset at 6pm. And somewhere in Western Sydney, a t-shirt printer stirs to life. Soon an army of stupol campaigners, decked out in brightly coloured t-shirts, will stream down Eastern Avenue. USU election season is upon us, with nine stupol hacks ready to duke it out over the five Board seats available.
Between the candidates, the stakes are getting high. Already, this little mermaid’s caught wind of some steaming preference deals. Two candidates have been implicated — Maya Eswaran, of the far-left, vaguely Greens-aligned Grassroots faction, and Decheng Sun, an international student running on a fiscally conservative platform. The pair’s campaign managers were spotted enjoying a caffeinated beverage together at Courtyard Cafe. The conversation must’ve been scintillating, judging by its length!
Backroom deals are a time-honoured feature of stupol elections. Different candidates tend to forge informal alliances which would deliver them mutual benefit. These alliances are often informal and unacknowledged, and their terms vary. Sometimes candidates will agree not to run interference against their allies’ campaigners. Sometimes they will print how-to-vote cards which recommend voters give their second preference to an allied campaign. Note, though, that preference deals never go beyond a recommendation on a how-to-vote: candidates can’t actually “give” their preferences to another candidate. That said, preference flow often determines the outcome of Board elections: most years, only one candidate is elected “above quota” (meaning they received more than one-fifth of first preference votes). All other successful candidates rely on second, third and sometimes even fourth preferences.
Not with a bang but a whimper
When one of the biggest USyd clubs is forced to remove its entire executive, five months after an invalid election, it’s a pretty big deal. If you’ve been out of the loop, time to be filled in. In March, Honi revealed that the entire Sydney Arts Students’ Society executive was invalidly elected, after the USU Board declared their 2017 AGM—which elected this year’s exec—had been improperly conducted. 2017 SASS President and current Board Director Jacob Masina, who was responsible for organising the AGM, ran the meeting under constitutional amendments which had been specifically vetoed by the Board, which controls clubs and societies on campus. The clause struck down mandated that the President and Secretary role be filled only by a previous SASS exec member, significantly limiting the pool of possible candidates.
Amid allegations of stacking by Liberals, the USU Board declared that all executive offices must be vacated and fresh elections be held. That General Meeting occurred last Thursday, with a considerable turn-out of people eager to cast their votes. In the end, all executive members were re-elected to their portfolios—bar one. Publications Director Terrence Duggan was replaced by Robin Eames. The portfolio is a joint role held with Alisha Brown, who was re-elected. At the election, meeting chair Chloe Thomas had a Moonlight Moment, incorrectly declaring that Alisha Brown and Terrence Duggan had been elected, before a vote-counter interrupted to clarify the result.
The Publications Director role was not one that was affected by the failed regulation change. If the USU Board had instructed that only the President and Secretary role required a re-election, no other portfolios would have been affected. Eames did not nominate for the position during last year’s November SASS AGM, and stated in their speech last week that they had been unaware of elections taking place. All things considered, the election was a calm affair, with no other roles being contested by new nominees.