If you have strolled down concourse this morning you will already know that it is that time of year again. There is no way you will have been able to miss those fake smiles staring out you from infinite posters. It’s election season. Say goodbye to your Facebook newsfeeds and casual five-minute chats before lectures, the candidates are coming.
Disappointingly however, this year’s elections are the least contested in recent memory. Only the Presidential and Welfare races have managed to attract more than a single candidate, while RON’s day has finally come in the new and uncontested position of Post-Grad Education. That is not to suggest that the lack of contested races will result in any reduced quality. If the Union’s current situation has resulted in anything positive it’s that even more now seems to be expected from Sabbatical Officers. What once was, at times, a personality contest in certain races has changed in recent years and is now increasingly policy orientated.
There is one new addition to this years line up though. Although so called ‘joke’ candidates have long been part of sabbatical elections in Trinity (search Cameron McCauley on YouTube for this year’s example) it’s never been a phenomenon that has caught on in UCD. Aidan Kelly is set to change this, having been nominated in the Presidential race, his major promises so far are a ‘puppy room’ to replace his office and an arson attack on Trinity College.
While perennial issues of Residences, the Welfare Fund and the Union’s finances will no doubt make appearances over the next week, it’s unlikely they will the central issue. That role will now be filled by the result of the referendum on Union’s membership of USI, which was announced yesterday. As is already widely publicised, UCD students chose to disaffiliate from the national organisation and go it alone. While Adam O’Carroll and Cian Dowling were on the Yes and No side respectively both Mícheál Gallagher and Ciara Johnson stayed on the fence. Now that the electorate has had their say it remains to be seen if and how Gallagher and Johnson will react. The unprecedented position of UCDSU going it alone and how each candidate proposes to make that viable will be one of the most important parts of the next seven days.
I will be following the candidates as the canvassing begins in earnest over the next few days and getting their reaction to putting themselves in front of UCD students. Having been involved in numerous previous sabbatical elections I don’t envy any of those involved, but I look forward to following each campaign closely and wish you all the best of luck in the week ahead.