By Laura Pitel and Tom Seymour
The choice of Union members was clear: Michaelmas’ elections produced the most self-evident result the Society has seen in many terms. While ‘lining’ may have played a part in Krishna Omkar’s victory, it alone could not account for his landslide win and he will, justifiably, feel cheated by the events of the vacation. Charlotte Fischer’s decision to take Omkar to tribunal can, however, be seen as brave. She had evidence that her opponent flagrantly breached the rules of the game and she was well within her rights to hold him to account for doing so. Yet the mess that the Union now finds itself in is completely of its own making. Perhaps the tribunal had little choice but to draw a narrow interpretation of an archaic rulebook, but if this is the case, it is the rulebook that needs to change. Omkar breached the Union rules by holding a slate party and soliciting votes; for this he has been handed his punishment. Soliciting votes is not something to be ashamed of. The media spectacle of the American primaries demonstrates that honest elections allow the policies and personalities of the candidates to become familiar to as many voters as possible. Political parties are the slates of the national parliaments in whose image the Union has formed itself. Even OUSU permits candidates the right to declare their allegiences. Fostering a more transparent system that allows voters to know what they’re getting can only be a good thing. The Union’s electoral regulations are supposedly in place to counter elitism, but the underhand tactics employed to win Oxford’s biggest popularity contest mean they have the opposite effect. If everyone who attended Omkar’s slate party had been disqualified the Union would be left with no officers. In the days when you can ‘become a fan’ of Barack Obama on Facebook, it is an anachronism typical of the Union that candidates are barely able to speak in public about the mere fact that they’re running. The Union holds itself up as a bastion of free speech in all areas apart from choosing its own leaders.