UofA Election 2019/20 — The Factions

Words by Sam Chapman

There are 6 major factions at the University of Adelaide, double that of any other South Australian University. All of them differ on policy, effectiveness once in power and their target constituency. Grades have been awarded to the effectiveness of their campaign, taking into account electoral and primary gains and losses, as well as the comparison to their previous results and what was expected of them.

Unite

Associated with: Student Unity, Adelaide University Labor Club

Political Leaning: Center Left

Leader: Ali Amin

2018 Primary Vote: 280–310

Unite has been the ticket name for the ‘Student Unity’ grouping at the University of Adelaide since the 2017 student election. Formerly known as Fresh, the Student Unity ticket has undergone several rebranding exercises in recent years. Unite has historically had varied success. In 2018, Unite ran with Progress and won SRC President for a second year, NUS delegates, and an AUU board director. Unite was the only faction to see its primary vote increase in 2018.

2019 Primary Vote: 380–430

Grade: B+

Unite increased their primary vote by 50% this election cycle and received the greatest number of votes in their history. This made them the largest coalition partner of the Left Block and the second largest faction overall. This did not convert to electoral gains other than carrying the rest of their coalition partners for the SRC Office Bearer (OB) positions, receiving widely predicted results for NUS although being elected in the first position for both AUU Board and General Councillor (GC) spots, as well as receiving the position of SRC President for the third year running. Their campaigners were largely effective communicators on the ground but as usual did still rely heavily on personal votes.

Positions Expected (Pre-election) — (PE)

Positions Won — (PW)

AUU Board

1 (PE)

1(PW)

SRC Office Bearers (OBs)

2 (PE)

2 (PW)

SRC General Councillors (GCs)

1 (PE)

1 (PW)

NUS Delegates

2 (PE)

2 (PW)

Activate

Associated with: National Labor Students

Political Leaning: Left

Leader: Sarah Tynan / Tamsin Anspach

2018 Primary Vote: 300–550

Activate has been the ticket name of the Labor Left student grouping at the University of Adelaide since 1999. Activate has historically exercised a significant influence over both the Adelaide University Union and the Adelaide University SRC until their decline following the departure of former SRC President Mark Pace. In 2017, Activate ran with Left Action and won positions on the SRC, NUS delegates, as well as 2 AUU board directors in their own right. In 2018 they ran with International Voice and achieved relative success, with a small majority on SRC, easily electing an AUU Board director and 3 NUS delegates. The primary vote difference between Activates AUU Board and SRC GC vote is vast, last year partially due to a particularly popular medical student, Patrick Kennewell running for AUU Board in 2018.

2019 Primary Vote: 290–310

Grade: C-

As Unite rises as a proven progressive ticket on campus, Activate seems to be falling accordingly. This year saw further falls in Activates primary vote, significantly declining for AUU board once again. Their number of campaigners, as well as their persuasiveness on the ground was fairly poor this year in comparison to previous years and with Activate no longer having a club to ground their operations and recruitment, this appears to be set to continue. Despite this they largely achieved what they set out to, except for winning a second NUS delegate.

AUU Board

1 (PE)

1 (PW)

SRC Office Bearers (OBs)

5 (PE)

5 (PW)

SRC General Councillors (GCs)

1 (PE)

1 (PW)

NUS Delegates

2 (PE)

1 (PW)

Connect (Previously Swipe Right)

Associated with: Australian Liberal Students’ Federation, Adelaide University Liberal Club

Political Leaning: Right

Leader: Angus Heaton / Kian Raffie

2018 Primary Vote: 200

Connect is the newly rebranded conservative Liberal student grouping formerly known as Swipe Right and ForU. The Liberal student ticket has historically had success in annual student elections, although have had varied success in recent years. In 2017, Swipe Right ran by themselves and commanded an SRC primary vote of over 500 votes in their own right, as well as winning an AUU board director. Their primary vote in the 2018 student elections almost halved under the management of Hugh Sutton, now National President of the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation. In 2018, they initially failed to get anyone elected except 1 NUS delegate however, due to resignations and actions by the election tribunal against International Voice Board Directors, Heaton was given a Board position, despite coming in 7th with 5 positions available.

2019 Primary Vote: 270

Grade: B-

Connect increased their primary vote by 35% compared to 2018. This would ordinarily be a significant achievement however 2018 was a significant outlier for this ticket, and 270 is still an underperformance from previous years. Some Liberals have claimed their primary to be far higher, including Tom Ralph’s primary vote within theirs. This is misguided however as only 30% of Ralph’s votes flowed to Rameshbabu, Connect’s number 1 AUU board candidate (Compared to a 70% internal flow for Unite) and their SRC GC also indicated a primary of 270. On the ground, Connect campaigners relied almost entirely on connections to bring in votes, rather than campaigning to students on the issues. This was evident considering their how-to-vote cards did not display any policy, unlike that of most other factions. Despite this they easily achieve a passing grade due to receiving 2 Officer Bearing positions on the SRC that they were not expected to win partially due to errors, as well as achieving an AUU Board director, a SRC GC and 3 NUS delegates (with Progress preferences). This also ensures they will continue to hold the prestigious position of AUU Vice President on the AUU Board.

AUU Board

1 (PE)

1 (PW)

SRC Office Bearers (OBs)

0 (PE)

2 (PW)

SRC General Councillors (GCs)

1 (PE)

1 (PW)

NUS Delegates

2 (PE)

3 (PW)

Climate Action (Previously Left Action)

Associated with: Socialist Alternative, Socialist Alternative Adelaide University

Political Leaning: Far Left

Leader: Tom Gilchrist

2018 Primary Vote: 160–200

The ticket name of the Socialist Alternative student grouping as of this year. Formerly known as Student Voice and Left Action, the Socialist Alternative ticket has had varied success in recent years. In 2017, Left Action ran with Activate and won a general councillor on the SRC, as well as an NUS delegate, although were unsuccessful in the election of an AUU board director. In 2018, Left Action ran independently, receiving a GC but were unsuccessful in their bid for a NUS delegate.

2019 Primary Vote: 220–250

Grade: B

Socialist Alternative is generally the smallest established ticket at UofA elections, and this continues to be the case. Despite this, their increase of ~30% in primary vote is significant and allowed them to obtain an NUS delegate ahead of Activate, a traditionally much larger ticket with the backing of an international faction. As expected their AUU Board campaign was unsuccessful but they did also receive a General Councillor and the Left Block backed them for the position of Environment Officer for the SRC, a strong organising position for the group. Socialist Alternative is a fairly extreemest ticket often running on a single issue and generally has a small potential voting base so this is a fairly good result for them. However, they did enact a far less militant campaigning style this year which may have enticed more moderate voters to the faction.

AUU Board

0 (PE)

0 (PW)

SRC Office Bearers (OBs)

1 (PE)

3 (PW)

SRC General Councillors (GCs)

1 (PE)

1 (PW)

NUS Delegates

1 (PE)

1 (PW)

Progress

Associated with; Various multicultural AUU clubs, religious groups, ‘apolitical students’

Political Leaning: Center Right (claims to be apolitical)

Leader: Oscar Ong

2018 Primary Vote: 560–600

Progress has been the ticket name of a coalition of the Adelaide University Chinese Students Association, politically-independent students, and multicultural students at the University of Adelaide since 2016, although they have existed in various iterations before this. In 2017, Progress ran with Unite and won a significant number of positions on the SRC, and two AUU board directors, which was enough to give them the position of AUU President. In 2018 the Adelaide University Chinese Students Association split from Progress and became their own faction called International Voice. Progress has recently been mired in controversy with Oscar Ong, the AUU President being accused of poor governance of the AUU Board and potential unconstitutional actions as Board President. They currently have control of the AUU Board but ran on a ‘progressive change’ narrative, despite being a largely conservative ticket nowadays.

2019 Primary Vote: 760–780

Grade: A

Progress ran a remarkably effective campaign this year, significantly increasing their primary vote to a point where they are without a doubt the largest faction on campus, close to double the size of the next largest, Unite. Their campaign was not without controversy, with Ong briefly banned for defamation of another AUU Board director, their Welfare Officer candidate allegedly trying to frame International Voice for bribery and in turn being excluded for bribery themselves and that same candidate double voting, but these issues are completely overshadowed by their electoral success. Once again achieving 2 AUU Board directors (albeit by 8 votes) which will maintain their control of the AUU Presidency, likely for the next 2 years, Progress continues to be the AUU establishment party. Their successes on the SRC are more limited with 3 OBs and 3 GCs however, considering the SRC is the political wing of the AUU and Progress likes to claim they are ‘apolitical’, their goal tends to center around maintaining control of the AUU Board. Progress had the most campaigners on the ground throughout the election, many of which were very effective and communicating to a wide range of ethnic groups. This included Chinese students which ate into the vote of International Voice, an entirely Chinese ticket. Ong is known for doing anything to win, and despite using questionable tactics on occasion, he has certainly succeeded this year.

AUU Board

1 (PE)

2 (PW)

SRC Office Bearers (OBs)

0 (PE)

3 (PW)

SRC General Councillors (GCs)

2 (PE)

3 (PW)

International Voice

Associated with: Adelaide University Chinese Students Association

Political Leaning: Left

Leader: Bangao Qin

2018 Primary Vote: 510–580

International Voice has been the ticket name of students associated with the Adelaide University Chinese Students Association since 2018. Formerly the Chinese Students Association was aligned with Progress, although split in 2018 due to disagreements with Progress convenor Oscar Ong who reportedly refused to create a constitution and democratic governance structure for Progress to preserve his own power base. Last year saw significant controversy for International Voice with both their elected AUU Board directors resigning or being excluded by the Election Tribunal due to alleged theft and threats against their Progress opponents.

2019 Primary Vote: 290–300

Grade: F

International Voice was by far the worst performer this year. With their primary vote close to halving due to numerous errors, electoral breaches and low campaigner energy, they failed to get a single director on the AUU Board, despite having the capacity to get two in 2018. Their entire ticket was banned from campaigning for a day and a half of the 5 days due to using the wrong sort of paper for their how-to-vote cards, as well as a candidate double voting which hurt them significantly. Compared to last year, after day 1 International Voice campaigners were far less militant, allowing chinese speaking Progress campaigners to walk all over them. They won only one OB and one GC on the SRC this year, despite historically being the major partner in the Left Block. This year’s campaign was a complete failure and, with their base club, the Adelaide University Chinese Students Association now disaffiliated from the AUU, largely due to political maneuvering by Oscar Ong (Progress) this decline is likely to continue.

AUU Board

1 (PE)

0 (PW)

SRC Office Bearers (OBs)

5 (PE)

1 (PW)

SRC General Councillors (GCs)

2 (PE)

1 (PW)

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