Joke tickets running on a platform of anti-establishment rhetoric boosted by fashionable memes are flooding the ANUSA election for 2018. Five tickets have announced their campaigns on Facebook and received popular support from students before nominations have even opened.

But one academic has suggested that joke tickets can divert attention to alternative policy, offer options for the disenfranchised, and encourage voting.

The race began on 2 July with the early announcement of Cameron Allan’s Shake Up ticket, with Class War for ANUSA launching their campaign hours later. Within 10 days, five joke tickets had emerged to contend with one ticket of established student politicians.

The Nick Xenophon Team 4 ANUSA is currently the most successful ticket at reaching out to the student populace. They recently bragged through a meme that the page had more likes than Shake Up.

Its rise to prominence has likely been aided by its involvement in an apparent intellectual property scandal. The ticket was contacted by the South Australian Senator’s media advisor, Frank Pangallo, over unauthorised use of Nick Xenophon’s name and photograph. The message was strongly worded and called the page a ‘gross misrepresentation’.

The author of the page maintains that ‘this page is run by Nick Xenophon.’ They said their aims were to bring back jobs to South Australians, but did not seem to have a similar focus on pokies or marriage equality.

Dr Andrew Hughes of the ANU College of Business and Economics said that joke tickets are ‘part and parcel of student politics’. He suggested that joke tickets are used by under-resourced or disenfranchised students to create a platform and then draw attention to alternative policy.

‘Once you do pay attention they provide serious policy,’ he said in an interview with Woroni.

These are potentially the aims of Class War for ANUSA. Many of their posts are ridiculous – appropriating the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics to the School Of Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism. However underlying these are a fear that corporatisation of the university decreases the quality of education provided.

These tactics also seem to be employed by the Nick Xenophon Team ticket, who use memes to attack mainstream policies and campaigns. They criticised Shake Up’s claims that they would ‘change ANUSA’, and attacked their spending over the past year on diaries and O-Week parties, all under the guise of providing more for South Australian students.

Hughes said that these tickets were perfect for students who were ‘sick and tired of politics,’ and could find joke tickets ‘more engaging and representative, not resourced by mainstream factions.’

Dancing Hot Dog for ANUSA is run on a platform of not being a ‘typical stupol hac [sic]’. They’re successfully engaging with students, and are currently the third most popular ticket. Their aims include reinvigorating the arts scene and building bridges with Subway following past disputes. They’ve also come out in support of Class War for ANUSA.

Fiji First for ANUSA 2018 are lagging behind with only 41 likes, after launching on 11 July. Their platform is modelled off the leadership of Fijian Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, who was able to take power again in 2009 when President Ratu Josefa Iloilo abolished the constitution and sacked the judiciary.

White Men for ANUSA are taking a leaf out of another anti-constitutional autocrat’s book. They’re mirroring Trump with their aim to build a ‘glass ceiling’. They did not respond to questions about who would be paying for the ceiling.

However they were otherwise happy to engage with female Woroni reporters. ‘One of our policies will be to encourage multiple queer women to work together… Closely. As according to the great fact book of white guys, we prefer lesbian fantasies while simultaneously denying queer marriage rights,’ they said in a message.

Hughes spoke positively of the role joke tickets could play in getting students to the polls. ‘It’s hard to get people engaged… there’s a historic low to student voting,’ he said. ‘But it’s important to have and exercise that right and have a representative voice.’

There were 1685 valid votes for ANUSA President last year, from a pool of over 11, 000 undergraduate students.

But only one joke ticket candidate was elected as a general representative – Lewis Pope of Make ANU Great Again.