We still can’t quite believe it’s over. Elena Cresci takes a quick overview of 2011’s Sabbatical elections…

There was no way that the Swansea Sabbatical Elections 2011 weren’t going to be exciting. After months of whispers and rumours about who would be running, the excitement in the union bubble was palpable in the run up to elections. Hardly surprising when there were 6 positions up for grabs unopposed and at least 5 Sabbatical Officers leaving the fair ship SUSU. Add some e-voting and e-campaigning to the mix and what we had was the recipe for a whirlwind of a campaign week.

But did this excitement really reach outside of the union bubble? In the first year of online voting, it was disappointing to hear these elections achieved a significantly lower turnout than that of last year’s. When The Siren went out to speak to students on results day, the reactions towards the election were pretty lacklustre and a general feeling of apathy was definitely present. A few friends told me they specifically decided against voting due to not actually understanding what it is they were voting for. Unfortunately, this is symptomatic of a general lack of understanding and lack of will to understand amongst students with just about anything to do with the union outside of events.

Many people I spoke to dismissed the elections as a sheer popularity contest, and when you consider how large a role Facebook played in 2011’s elections, there is the worry that e-campaigning over Facebook made this ten times worse. The Siren are obviously keen users of Facebook in terms of advertising new posts, but the key difference here lies in the sheer amount of campaigning hitting students from left, right and centre. It was hard not to be aware of the election with countless friends changing their profile pictures to support their favoured candidates or tagging them in statuses. Obviously, those with better connections (or more friends on Facebook) had a bit of an advantage, but saying that, there was truly some innovative campaigning going on using new media, and you can’t fault that.

Despite all this interactive e-campaigning, it became clear you just couldn’t beat or replace campaigning in person. Fail to visit one hall, and you miss out on a number of students and therefore a number of votes, but I think it’s safe to say that the majority of candidates had a clear physical and online presence during election week. The interesting thing to watch out for in future elections is whether or not future candidates will fall victim to the trap of restricting their campaigning to Facebook alone.

As the final results had been announced and everyone had been kicked out from Divas, for the first time ever, it hit me that I’m not going to be here next year to witness the next Sabbatical team at work, and I couldn’t help but feel somewhat disappointed! Whether you voted for them or not, the Sabbatical team as a whole is a cracking one, and they have some exciting and challenging times ahead of them. I wish the best of luck to them in the coming year, and I’m gutted I won’t be around to see them at work!

I’ll close with something very similar to my Facebook status early Friday morning – every candidate really needs to pat themselves on the back. Stressing out about reporting the elections is one thing entirely, but putting yourselves out there and campaigning all week long is just something else.

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