Historic election result: Konservative Studenter snags an AU Board seat from the Student Council

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For the first time in AU’s history, Konservative Studenter has won one of the two student seats on AU’s board. The electoral pact with Frit Forum Aarhus delivered the decisive votes to the conservative student association.

2018.11.28 | Miriam Brems

Karoline Poulsen will be the first student to represent Konservative Studenter on the Aarhus University Board. Photo: Private.

Last year, Konservative Studenter (KS) was 111 votes away from a seat on the board. This year they went all the way – and KS snagged one of the two student seats on the board for the first time.

“We’re really happy to have gotten a seat for the first time ever. In fact, we’re overjoyed,” says Kim Risbjerg Madsen, chair of KS.

Even though he was nervous before the election results were announced, they didn’t come as a surprise.

“Last year’s election laid a good foundation, so we had counted on being able to bring home a victory,” he says.

The seat goes to Karoline Poulsen

Karoline Poulsen, who’s studying Economics and Business Administration at Aarhus BSS, is KS’ new representative on the board. She’s on an exchange in China and won’t be back until Christmas, so she wasn’t around for the announcement of the election result. But KS’ second lead candidate Mikael Brorson was here. Although he won’t have be joining AU’s highest decision-making body himself, he’s definitely satisfied with the election results.

“We were counting on getting the most votes at BSS, and that the seat would go to one of the candidates on that list,” he explains.

What matters most to him is that KS won.

“We’ve broken the Student Council’s de facto monopoly on the board, and we’ve demonstrated beyond doubt that the Student Council can’t be seen as a kind of trade union that all students feel represents them,” he says.

Even though he didn’t win a seat on the board, he was elected to the Board of Studies for Theology.

A disappointed SR chair

The 3547 votes received by the Student Council gave lead candidate Ditte Marie Thomsen one of the two students seats on the board. But Carina Molsen Nielsen, chair of the Student Council, is disappointed that they lost the second seat.

“I’m disappointed that Line [Dam Westengaard, ed.] didn’t get elected despite the fact that she got four times as many personal votes as Karoline Poulsen. But in any case, I’m glad we won this seat, which we’ll hold for two years.”

New election rules

Nielsen is referring here to the introduction of the new election rules, according to which students will be elected to two-year terms rather than one-year terms as before. This year is a transitional period: one of the seats will be held for a two-year term and the other for one year. And because the Student Council got the most votes, the the two-year seat goes to them.

The chair is also pleased about the results of the other elections to the academic councils and the boards of studies.

“The Student Council won a fair number of seats on the other committees at AU, so that’s positive. We have a lot of active members who’ve made a huge effort,” she says.

To achieve a better result next year, Nielsen believes that the Student Council has to do a better job of communicating the results they achieve on the committees.

“We have to do a better job of publicizing the work we do for the students, both academically and socially out  in the degree programmes. Students shouldn’t have any doubt about the huge difference our representatives make out there,” says Nielsen.

KS: the new election rules are undemocratic

The new election rules which came into force this year mean that from now on, students will be elected to two-year terms, and that the two student representatives will be elected in alternate years. This means that Ditte Marie Thomsen will serve for two years, while Karoline Poulsen will serve for one year. And as a consequence, starting with next year’s election, there will only be one AU Board seat at stake in each university election in future. KS  is highly critical of this development.

“This is deeply undemocratic and deeply problematic. With the new rules, there’s no protection of the minority at all,” says Madsen, who has asked to meet with Connie Hedegaard, chair of the AU Board, to discuss the issue.

Brorson seconds his criticism.

“This clearly favorizes the Student Council, because it means we’re getting a de facto cut-off point of 50% of the vote,” he says.

In other words, when there’s only one seat up for election, the student association with the most votes gets the seat.

The electoral pact with Frit Forum was decisive

KS has Frit Forum to thank for the decisive votes that gave KS the board seat. Without the electoral pact with the socialist democratic student association, KS would not have won.

This is because the D’Hondske method is used to award seats on the board.  This means that the electoral pact with the most votes – in this case SR with 3,547 votes - gets the first seat. To win seat number two, you need one vote more than half of 3,547 seats – 1,774 votes.

KS won only 1682 votes, but because of the electoral pact with Frit Forum, the associations could pool their votes. Frit Forum’s 378 votes pushed KS up to 2060 votes – enough to win the second seat.

Ditte Marie Thomsen received 782 personal votes, while Karoline Poulsen got 127.

A total of 6,050 votes were cast for the AU Board vote, of which 443 were blank. The turnout was 17.6%. Last year, 7,264 votes were case, of which 885 were blank. The turnout for AU Board elections was 18.52% last year. 

There were a total of nine contested elections and 63 uncontested elections, while 19 elections were cancelled. The overall turnout was 18.49%.

Find out the results of all of the elections here.

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