As EUSA nominations open, negative campaigning a concern

Nominations for the 2015 EUSA elections opened on Monday, marking the beginning of the student association’s election season. Nominations will remain open until midday on 5 March.

With over 19 nominations across all positions entered on the first day alone, The Student was able to contact five students who are considering running for the position of EUSA President.

EUSA regulations mean that no nominee may publicly announce their candidacy until the campaign period begins on 12 March. The rules limited what each candidate was able to tell The Student, but the five potential nominees were able to share their hopes and thoughts for the upcoming campaigns.

One of the main concerns that came through was that of “negative campaigning”. Traditional EUSA campaigning was described as “a cacophony of vitriolic hate” by one interviewee.

Potential Nominee One told The Student: “I think there’s a few people who’ve been planning this campaign for quite a long time so it’s going to be quite stiff competition, especially for the President. But I hope that, this year, the whole anonymous-blog-backstabbing kind of stuff is avoided – you’ve probably heard about the stuff that happened last year. That stuff is just really terrible.”

Potential Nominee One continued: “I would hope that it would be quite a clean campaign and we just stick to talking about policies and don’t use underhand techniques or negative campaigning.”

This sentiment was shared by Potential Nominee Two, who also referred to rivalries which came to define much of last year’s presidential campaign: “There always seems to be two that sort of hate each other. But hopefully I won’t be one of those. It does seem to be the case – last year I don’t think Kirsty [Haigh] and Dan [Scott Lintott] got along very well, did they?”

Potential Nominee Three was hesitantly optimistic: “There inevitably will be bits of negativity. I don’t think there’ll be as much as last year – last year was caused by a personality spat. And I think, overall, following [last year], staff and sabbaticals will be far more proactive in dealing with negativity and below-the-radar campaigning. And as a result I do think there were will be more support in place for the students when things do go wrong like that and bad conduct will be far more discouraged.”

Potential Nominee Four, meanwhile, asserted that “on my end I can say with a cast-iron promise that there is not going to be any interest in any sort of negative campaigning or anything like that.”

This candidate was hopeful for the upcoming campaign, saying: “I think this year you’re going to have some really great people with some really great ideas. I’m sure they’re going to be focusing on their own campaigns and getting out there, and for me, I can see a lot of people who’ve never voted before, who’d never normally think that EUSA represents them, [starting] to think: ‘Actually, this is important to me, and the ideas and the visions that are being put out there are ones I really agree with.’”

Nominee Four brought up voter apathy, another key issue to the presidential hopefuls. They concluded: “I’m sure there will be a higher voter turnout.”

Potential Nominee Five started their talk with The Student by confirming that they were not currently intending to run. They did, however, share strong views regarding what they believed the 2015/16 President’s priorities should be. This student considered structural change to be key to dealing with voter apathy:

“A President who has a realistic platform whereby they would get control of EUSA’s finances, and where they are able to promise reforms of our constitution and democratic structures to better engage apathetic students and to end the overlapping and conflicting mandates of hundreds of EUSA representatives – that would be a President who I think has bold ideas.”

Regarding voter apathy, Potential Nominee Two said: “That’s the biggest problem, because if you ask what EUSA is in lots of parts of the university, it’s an expensive sandwich shop. […] People don’t know about any of the campaigns.”

The campaigning period will end, and results will be announced, on 19 March.

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