Who Will Challenge Ling?

Nine candidates last year, only one in 2012! Where’s Derek when you need him?

This time last year, there was a list of rumoured Sabbatical candidates as long as your arm. This year the same is true but with one key difference: the role of President. As of yet, The Tab has heard of NO-ONE who will challenge Sam Ling in this year’s SUSU elections. But why?

A definite mob

Last year Sam was somewhat of a dark horse. A relative unknown when compared to some of the other nine candidates, he eschewed the now-traditional “mob” style of campaigning in favour of an understated but much more effective policy of open listening and communication. And it paid off: after an unprecedented eight rounds of eliminations Sam was elected SUSU president by a clear margin. There was some controversy around last year’s elections, with accusations of student elections being nothing more than a popularity contest. Sam’s victory here was a shock to many, even us here at The Tab picked Jess Staff as our favourite to win. Last year seemed to prove that sheer popularity and size if campaign team isn’t enough to win the “big job”.

Sam’s election victory has been a long time coming; he started his university career way back in 2006. In his 5 years at university, Sam has held a wide range of positions in SUSU: LiveSoc President 08/09; Union Councillor 08/09; Societies Officer 09/10; and Leader of the No to NUS campaign 2010. He was made an Honorary Life Member in 2010, the student union’s highest reward for long and meritorious service. With this range of experience, Sam seems to know the Union inside out. I heard soon after he was elected last year that he had always planned to run for a second term; with the length and breadth of his manifesto it is not surprising!

To make an inappropriate comparison, let’s look at what happens across the Atlantic. In American Presidential elections, the incumbent has a huge advantage. It is relatively unheard of for a president to either not re-run or re-run and lose. Even George W Bush managed to win a second term! Over here in the SUSU microcosm, it isn’t as usual to contest another election. Maybe because candidates want to move on, have received a better offer or just do not want to have to go through another grueling campaign week, re-runs are very rare. This year however, three Sabbs are re-running. A sign of the economic climate or more Union-dedicated team?

Who could run against that fine beard?

But why is Sam seemingly running unopposed? His huge likeability, flair and skill at the job to which he was elected are major factors. The Tab has heard rumours that several candidates have been put off running for President, just because they know Sam is running. Is this through respect of the man, or fear that they would lose? Some more scurrilous commenters have suggested that no one is running against Sam because they don’t want his baby going hungry!

SUSU are still pushing, late in the day, for more candidates to run against Sam. A one horse race for the biggest job in the Union does seems a little embarrassing. With nominations due to close imminently, it remains to see whether someone will step up and fight the battle for President.