Three Candadates standing for reelection in the VUWSA elections were accused last week of using underhanded tactics to influence the outcome of the vote.
A candidate for Welfare Vice-President, Anna Duggan, last week told Salient that it had been suggested that she withdraw from the candidacy in a meeting between VUWSA President Nick Kelly, Education Vice-President Joel Cosgrove and General Executive members Heleyni Pratley and Alexander Neilsen.
There are currently three candidates for WVP; Duggan, Pratley and current Women’s Rights Officer Caroline Prendergast.
Duggan says the four “did not really want me and Heleyni to run”, as having both candidates run would split the vote against Prendergast, who Duggan says was referred to as “disruptive” to the executive.
Kelly says it is “normal practice for a President to try and line up the best people for the positions” and that he had been attempting to persuade Duggan to run for the General Executive because of her inexperience, and the low numbers of candidates for those positions.
He admits the relationship with Prendergast has been “strained, and not just with me”, but says that if he is elected and “if she does get in I will work with her.”
Prendergast says the allegations were “disappointing” and accused the three of attempting to “stack the exec with members of the Workers’ Party.” Both Kelly and Cosgrove are members of the Workers’ Party.
Pratley, who is also Cosgrove’s girlfriend, denies that she asked Duggan to withdraw her candidacy, saying she “just wanted to meet her and to make sure we’ve got the best candidate against Caroline.” However, she says that if she really wanted Prendergast not to win the position she would not run at all, and adds “this is politics.”
Former VUWSA President Jeremy Greenbrook says that while attempting to get “the best people for the positions” on the executive is not unheard of, usually it is done by “supporting their campaign as opposed to knee-capping their opponents.”
However, current WVP Jules can Cruysen goes further, calling what occurred “a blatant subversion of democracy” and adds that “the comment that Duggan’s presence on the ballot would split the anti-Prendergast vote is a fair one but there is a dangerous motive behind it.”