Your 2018 SRC Council
WORDS BY BRENDAN JAMES O'SHEA & EDEN FAITHFULL
Well the election is finally over, and the drama has settled down, for now... (hello #repselect2017).
We now have (some of) the numbers. There are certainly some surprises in the results of the 2017 SRC elections, and we’ll be unpacking those shortly, but WOW. Word of advice to any factional hacks in our audience: don’t rest on your laurels.
So, what is it?
Okay, let’s be fair. If you’re reading this, you’ve been dying to know the makeup of the next SRC. Well, your trusty reporter has access to the numbers and, after the initial count, this is our prediction of what the 90th SRC might look like. There are preferences still be tallied – which will change the final result (and have a large impact on the margins) – but these primary votes nonetheless hint at how different this SRC will be.
Note that the numbers below aren’t final, and are accurate from the count yesterday afternoon. The personal votes – ie. votes cast right of the line for individuals on tickets – are still to be tallied, although these historically make up a very small proportion of the overall votes. (All campaigns try to convince voters to vote left of the line –– voting for the ticket as a whole, as it helps preferences flow between tickets within their brand.)
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been running your own maths over the past few days to figure out just what the next SRC was going to look like – and if your numbers were similar to mine, that above table might actually not be all that surprising.
So the big factions – Grassroots (campaigning with Indies as ‘Switch’, referred to henceforth as Switchroots), Sydney Labor Students (SLS), National Labor Students (NLS) and Student Unity (…well, Unity) (all of whom campaigned under ‘Stand Up’), and everyone’s favourite group of socialists, Socialist Alternative (‘Left Action’) – barely managed to muster 40% of the vote between them, a share even smaller than their presidential vote. For reference, even last year these factions saw close to 80% of the votes and eventual representation on the council.
On the basis of these numbers, here are some likely results. Panda will take out between 9 and 10 seats – an extraordinary result for a first-time brand. Switchroots is likely to get between 6 and 7 seats; Stand Up and Vision will each net around 5 and 7 seats; Social Alternative will get at least 1, with a very good chance at 2; and the non-Vision Liberals (ie. Vanguard and ‘the Liberals’ ticket) will get 2.
Wait, what happened?
Well, you might see the takeaway as being that the USYD community is moving to the right (or the left, represented by almost every major faction, is just not as good at winning the hearts and minds of the student population). But that would be ignoring that Panda – a ticket run by and for international students – have potentially won 25.6% of the vote and 10 seats on the council. It would suggest that the political engagement of international students, which we’ve seen emerge over the past two years, has now delivered a stunning shakeup to the old political order. Panda unquestionably represents the largest single voting bloc on the new council.
It’s also worth noting that, despite coming close to delivering Brendan Ma the presidency, Moderate Liberal and affiliated factions have barely increased their representation on the SRC. Had Panda not been so successful with international students, this might be a very different story – however the ticket’s ties to Hengjie Sun, current USU Board Director and fan of selfies with Liberal PM’s, suggests Panda has closer ideological ties to the Liberal factions than it might to Labor factions or Switchroots. It should be noted, however, that Panda did not officially endorse Ma, and did not feature him on their how-to-votes. The high rate of informal voting in the Presidential election (ie. voters not marking a preference on their ballot), particularly at the JFR booth, where it hit 15% of the vote, may indicate that some Panda voters were there only to vote for Panda.
Pardon my French, but this could seriously fuck with factions eyeing seats on the council this year.
Preliminary results indicate that Stand Up has only won at most 7 seats. Compare that with last year’s Stand Up campaign (run by NLS and Unity), where they managed to secure 12 seats – 17, if SLS (which formed the ‘Power’ coalition with Grassroots in last year’s election) is included. That’s a serious drop, and one which some might have anticipated after watching the numbers roll in for Bella Pytka’s presidential attempt.
To put that in perspective, it means that Student Unity – which last year was elected to 8 seats in their own right – may hold a similar number of seats to Socialist Alternative.
Considering the tension between Labor factions, at this stage it’s too early to call how or if the left-wing will be able to negotiate a governing majority.
Please don’t fight it out guys. Bake a cake with rainbows or something.
So it’s just international students expressing their voice? It’s not a decline of the left?
Well, it doesn’t 100% look that way. That said, Ma’s share of the presidential vote could suggest disillusionment with stupol as usual amongst regular students. Or it could suggest that Ma just had more social clout than other candidates. But one surprising takeaway from this council makeup is Vanguard.
If you were following the campaign you might have noticed that Vanguard courted controversy with the running of candidate Sukith Fernando, who claimed that if his questioning of the holocaust made him a holocaust denier then he would consider himself a holocaust denier. Fernando was denounced in a statement on their Facebook page, but Vanguard’s stated goal to be apolitical and to avoid pushing agendas (in addition to that overly edgy white shield on black with those lightning bolts) stands in stark contrast to the more activist promises of tickets such as Switch or Stand Up.
At the time of this controversy, Honi Soit also pointed out that Vanguard (coincidentally, promised ticket head David Wan) shared its name with an American white supremacist group. Also coincidentally, we imagine, Vanguard USA features an edgy white insignia on a black field (though theirs is an eagle carrying fasces and not a thunderstruck shield).
They also managed to snatch at least 136 total votes, which placed them behind only Panda (with a combined total of 998) and Vision for SRC (with 190 votes). They were narrowly more popular than Stand Up and Switch’s flagship tickets – however, Stand Up and Switchroots both ran up to 17 tickets like ‘Stand Up for LGBTI+’ and ‘Switch for Science’. In other words, Vanguard’s vote was simply more consolidated than that for the left-wing tickets.
Now perhaps Vanguard’s 136 voters just didn’t follow the drama as reported by ourselves and Honi Soit. But if that’s not the case, 136 people aware of the controversy surrounding Vanguard’s ticket voted for it anyway – and with quota set at around 100 this year, Vanguard has quite easily managed to claim one of the seats on the council.
Considering the controversy that the ticket courted during the campaign, it remains to be seen just what role Vanguard will end up playing on the SRC now that it has taken its spot. But with it’s refusal to identify with any ideology, that makes it a wildcard on a very tight SRC.
Where do we go from here?
To start with, well fuck.
This election itself proved too close to call and was an incredibly tight race – and 2017’s repselect is going to prove just as tight regardless of where the final seats go. Those seats however would prove invaluable to left-wing tickets which for the past few years have been unencumbered by the right-wing.
But this was also not a ringing endorsement for the right-wing either. The raised profile that a presidential campaign attracts has probably helped Vision to claim the seats that they have secured, and if anything is more a consolidation rather than improvement on Vision’s predecessor Ignite.
The real winner of this election though is, as mentioned earlier, Panda – and depending on how much influence Hengjie Sun does exert over the ticket that he authorised, Panda could easily find themselves in the position of kingmaker.