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Tuesday, February 07, 2023

The outcome of the fall Student Government elections on Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 might not be a surprise if past elections are any indication.

The last three elections have been dominated by political parties that look very similar in candidates and platforms.

In the spring of 2006, the Swamp Party won 34 seats, with the Unite Party winning 13, according to SG records.

The gap between parties widened in the next two elections. The Swamp Party took 46 seats in fall 2006, and the Gator Party took 43 in spring 2007.

The Swamp and Gator parties also won the Student Body president, vice president and treasurer positions in their respective spring elections.

Typically, the lopsided elections cause limited debate over bills and other issues in the Student Senate. A recent example happened Sept. 18 when the Senate unanimously approved SG's nearly $13.3 million budget for 2008-2009.

Senate Pro-Tempore Kevin Reilly chided senators for not asking enough questions.

Joseph Trimboli, Progress Party president, said he believes the one-party rule can have a negative effect on government.

"I think historically, having one party has never served anybody's interest to the fullest extent," Trimboli said. "The American people usually don't trust one-party rule for a reason. The same is true at UF. The pro would be that you can get your agenda pushed through without any resistance, and the con is that you can get your agenda pushed through without any resistance."

Yooni Yi, Gator Party president, said she wasn't worried about a single party controlling the Senate or limited discussion about Senate legislation.

The Gator Party's past success was due to the party running a group of candidates diverse in age, major and ethnicity, Yi said.

"There is a diverse group that will ask questions if they feel the need to," Yi said. "I don't worry about it because I know that the slate going forward is a diverse slate."

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Though Yi said she doesn't think a one-party system is problematic, she said she doesn't want students to think voting doesn't matter and the election comes gift-wrapped for one party.

If students don't vote because they assume one party will win, it's hard to have any pull with the administration, she added.Trimboli said he attributes the success of the ruling SG party to very good organizational skills, as well as its support from "various student organizations on campus, such as the fraternities and sororities."

Trimboli said he didn't want to label the Progress Party as an underdog, though he is facing the same Gator Party that practically swept the spring election.

"If anyone labels us as disadvantaged and the underdogs, that would be their own personal opinion," he said. "We're not putting forth a weak platform, and we're not putting forth a weak slate of candidates."

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