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annabelbenton
23rd February 2024

Legacies of LeadMCR throughout the years

Your guide to the recent history of UoM’s student elections, from voting turnouts and when to vote to controversies and changes
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Legacies of LeadMCR throughout the years
Photo: Annabel Benton @ The Mancunion

LeadMCR is fast approaching. On March 7, eight new student exec officers will be ushered into their roles after an intense period of campaigning to, and voting by, their fellow students. 

Despite LeadMCR being one of the Students’ Union’s biggest events of the year, many students are unaware of who their current execs are or what they do. So, if you’re either well-versed in student democracy or are approaching these elections knowing nothing about student elections, we’ve compiled a student democracy guide to kick off LeadMCR in 2024.

LeadMCR in brief

To get everyone up to scratch, LeadMCR is the University of Manchester’s Students’ Union’s annual election of eight Student Executives. The election has been described by the SU as “your chance to take control of the student experience at the University of Manchester,” and will see many eligible students campaigning to lead their university over the coming year.

Roles range from Activities and Culture and Union Affairs to Officers for Humanities and Research, with each elected student working with the university and the wider community to advocate for UoM’s student body. Those elected will have to campaign for their roles and be voted in by a majority of their fellow students – last year over 10,000 students had their say.

This year, candidates were revealed on February 23, and campaigning is now underway. Students will have two weeks to get to know their candidates, from reading ideas statements to seeing who comes out with the most catchy slogan. Voting will open between March 4 and March 7, with the elected Execs announced on the same night that voting closes.

Whilst we all gear up to engage in another year of manifestos, debates, and banners around campus, The Mancunion has taken a look back at some of the biggest stories from LeadMCR’s past. 

Controversies

Results night is not always a straightforward affair, such as in 2020 when the SU was still investigating claims of cheating after the incoming execs were announced. Both the General Secretary and Postgraduate Officers were eventually elected into their roles, but only after a thorough investigation of claims of cheating and pressuring students to vote for them.

Slating dominated the news in 2019, where four candidates were banned for running on a common platform campaign strategy. The then-reelected General Secretary of the SU won the majority of the vote under controversial circumstances, having been banned from campaigning after allegations of misconduct. The first ever Postgraduate Officer to be elected in the same year had also been banned from campaigning, whilst the role of International Students’ Officer couldn’t even be announced on the night – drama across many roles.

As far back as 2013, candidate disqualifications caused chaos at the exec elections. Five candidates were disqualified for cheating, with three of them later winning appeals to be reinstated into the results. However, only one candidate was elected on the back of the controversy, dislodging another incoming student to take the role of Wellbeing Officer.

Voting Turnout

As well as controversies, it is also revealing to look back on the voting trends for student elections. Last year, voting figures soared to over 10,000 students, an impressive 20% increase in turnout from the year before.

Conversely, results had been traditionally lower during the late 2010s, with 19.8% of students voting in 2019 and only 16% in 2017. The Students’ Union will be hoping for a dynamic campaigning period this year to ensure the continued engagement of a higher proportion of the student body.

The record number of votes occurred in 2015, where 34.4% of the student body had their say on their incoming exec officers. Many candidates will be hoping for a similar turnout this year, in what promises to be a tightly fought race across many roles.

After impressive voting numbers in 2023, 2024 is set up to become another busy period for student democracy. As we await the flurry of ideas statements, campaign videos, and leaflets across campus, get ready to have your say in the next LeadMCR.

Annabel Benton

Annabel Benton

Co-Culture Managing Editor at The Mancunion // Twitter: @AnnabelBenton_

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