Two days in, and the campaign seems refreshingly clean. No feeder tickets running around, no universal voting to win over the lazy sods, no food vouchers to entice commerce students, no campaigning inside the intimate confines of Union House. Just a clean bit of fun with the emphasis on campaign ideas and policy development.
A few quick snippets:
- The Right have got themselves organised in a super-tight outfit (that's the organising, not the t-shirts, which are a touch on the daggy side) under the branding of Empower. Onboard the good ship Empower is the Labor Right, Liberals and AUJS. No doubt the Rogets was working overtime to come up with something, given that it is essentially identical groups to 2003's Go and 2002's Student Alliance. No International Alliance, and no colleges on board, suggest that it was a rather last-minute operation. As for the rumour that the Empower campaigners have been encouraged to wear short skirts to attract attention - probably best to just put that down to the warm weather...
- The Left are a little less coherent, with three tickets complementing each other. The deal goes part way to avoiding a nasty cannibalisation of the votes (most are vegetarians, you see), since they have chosen not to contest the same positions. The three are Hype, Left Focus and Activate. The problem will be that the branding is confusing and the message a little incoherent. Non-active students (most of them, that is) are likely to be overwhelmed by the clunky operation. No doubt, however, this is a forerunner to a good working relationship in the future, where just a single ticket will be run and peace and light will be spread throughout Parkville. Amen.
- Security guards looking after polling booths. A nasty look, and one that reflects very badly on the participants. If 12 million Austalians can vote without the presence of security guards, one wonders why 30,000 uni students need that extra bit of protection. Still notably absent, however, are UN election monitors.
And ultimately, a prediction: The right have won in each of the past three years, but in each of those three the electoral situation was very different to the one in place this year. The food voucher, regardless of the ethical arguments for and against, provided a huge boost for the right, attracting otherwise apathetic conservative commerce, engineering and law students. Similarly, universal voting and the presence of feeder tickets, were both used by the right to overwhelm opponents. This year, however, is a return to a situation where only truly dedicated students will vote, and overwhelmingly they come from the left of politics. And the result? The left will return to power, with most, but probably not all, positions in the hallowed halls of Union House.
A POST SCRIPT ON INCENTIVE VOTING....
It seems like the Belarusians have taken a leaf out of the Melbourne Uni Right book, if this piece in The Austalian is correct:
Turnout was helped on a rainy day by incentives such as free alcohol and produce handed out at reduced prices at the polling stations.