The circuses I attended were uninspiring to say the very least and candidates relied on the same old rhetoric we’ve come to expect from aspiring student politicians. But something was in the air, something that manifested itself in more than 10 740 students voting in this year’s election. Considering the general apathetic stance of UP students towards student politics, we’ve seen a significant increase in voters from previous elections (around 7 000 in previous years). Taking into account that you didn’t even have to get out of bed to vote, a 22.71% voter turnout is still far from what I’d consider a political awakening.

There are however a couple of factors that might have led to, dare I say, a lesser student apathy towards the governance structure at UP.

Firstly, the electronic voting played a massive role. The online voting system made it exceptionally easy to cast your vote from anywhere. There really wasn’t an excuse not to vote and yet 75.65% of students still didn’t give a damn. I do however believe we’ll see an increase in votes come future electronic elections.
Secondly, we need to take into account the extremely difficult two years that preceded these elections. Unrest and disruptions on campus certainly played a role in the way students reacted in this election. Considering that DASO wasn’t as visible as the EFFSC or SASCO during the Fees Must Fall disruptions, perhaps students chose stability on campus while making their mark this year.

Lastly, it would be naive to disregard the national dialogue around politics in our country. The ANC is haemorrhaging support and, as microcosm of the country, the UP SRC elections reflected the current mood in politics. SASCO received a proper hiding and I can’t help but wonder if the ANC will take note of this. However, I have to commend SASCO on the mature way they accepted defeat.

Afriforum and independent candidates were nowhere to be found either. Previously we saw independent candidates fare a lot better than their politically aligned counterparts.

So DASO sits comfortably on the iron throne of student governance for 2018. The trust of the students is theirs to lose, and while some interesting promises were made at their circuses, only time will tell if they will be able to fulfil the mandate afforded them by the students of UP.
Carel Willemse

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