The CSM 8 Primary has begun: for approximately the next week, 35 candidates will be scrambling to acquire 200 endorsements from their voters to be added onto the final ballot. Voters will not know which candidates have gotten enough endorsements to push them past the 200 mark, but allegedly CCP will notify qualified candidates once they have passed. Each player account can only endorse one of the 35 candidates in the primary, in a change from the CSM7 'forum likes' system which was widely criticized.
According to this dev blog, the Primary (or Pre-Election) was slated to begin on March 22nd, but wasn't deployed until March 26th. We presume that the primary period will remain one week long, ending approximately April 2nd.
First, this Pre-Election system is a step up from the 'forum likes' system of CSM7, where a candidate needed to only acquire 100 forum +likes to get on the CSM7 ballot. However, the Pre-Election has - thus far - barely been mentioned by CCP. There has been no dev blog about it as of this writing, and it was delayed by four days. Also, unlike the +likes system, voters must choose one candidate to endorse per account, rather than endorsing a range of candidates they might wish to vote for. This brings up an interesting contrast in systems: the Primary is a one-account, one-vote system, where the election itself is a STV system with 14 preference slots.
My bet is that this roster of 35 candidates will be cut down substantially during the primary, as the webpage to endorse candidates isn't easy to find unless you're an interested voter, or sent to the Primary page by bloc-level whipping. There also hasn't been much promotion yet by CCP, and in a haze of ignorance organized candidates will triumph.
Wow: only 35 candidates for a CSM primary. That number itself is a searing indictment of player confidence in the CSM and a sign of deep voter apathy: before the primary even occurs, you know that 40% of the names you see will in the pre-election will end up on the CSM itself.
CSM8 will have the lowest number of candidates of any CSM election in history, as we can logically assume that not all of the 35 in the Primary will make the cut. CSM7 had 49 candidates approved by CCP, and was whittled down to 40 after some withdrawals and the +like vetting system. CSM6 had 57 candidates running, and CSM5 had 53. CSM4, one of the lowest-turnout CSM elections in the history of the institution, managed to muster 49 candidates.
Unfortunately, many of the older devblogs for CSMs 1-3 are missing, but after some digging we find 72 applicants for CSM 2, of which 41 were approved by CCP. The first CSM had 64 approved candidates out of 97 applications. CSM3 had 56 applications, with 40 approved.
We can roughly correlate player interest in the CSM with the number of candidates vying for the position; for the sake of shorthand we'll only use the final CCP-vetted approved candidates to judge.
- CSM1: 64
- CSM2: 41
- CSM3: 40
- CSM4: 49
- CSM5: 53
- CSM6: 57
- CSM7: 49 (40 after forum +like vetting system and withdrawals)
- CSM8: Less than 35
The question is 'why'. You might blame CCP for this, for not promoting the CSM's accomplishments enough. You might blame CSM7 for this, if you are among the players who consider them to have underperformed. You might suggest that a reduced field is not actually a bad thing, but is rather a sign that non-bloc candidates aren't bothering to run anymore. Regardless, the sheer lack of interest for players in even running for CSM8, compared to past elections, is jaw-dropping - I was surprised enough by the 35 figure to spend an hour digging around cached articles from five years ago just to make sure I wasn't deluding myself.
If voters are disinterested in CSM8, we can assume that it will be harder for middling-strength candidates to muster 200 endorsements than in a high-interest election, particularly those without blocs - many potential voters may not even know about the Pre-Election or understand how the new endorsement system works. I predict a number will 'endorse' candidates, thinking that they are voting in the actual election, and not return to fill out a 14-slot STV preference list.
If the primary knocks out only seven candidates out of the 35, we find ourselves in the hilarious situation of at least half of those running getting a seat.
In other words, this horse race just got a lot less interesting: flip a coin for the candidates after the pre-election, and they'll probably be on the CSM.
Notably, James 315 is out - he withdrew at the last moment.
The non-bloc Russian vote will be split 3 ways: Greene Lee is, surprisingly, running again from what remains of -A-, vying for David Duke sympathizer Fon Revedhort (some of his greatest hits, before CCP sanitized his threads, can be found here, and check out that lovely track list - Google the band names - on his CSM7 candidacy video) and Korvin returns for another CSM run.
Bloc-wise we have Mynnna, Kaleb Rysolde, Artctura and Kesper North from the CFC, Sort Dragon, Sala Cameron, Malcanis and Banlish from the HBC, with Travis Musgrat and Progodlegend from N3. For election purposes, RvB might as well count as a bloc, and so Mangala Solaris will likely succeed as well.
W-space is divided, with Nathan Jameson, Ayeson, Chitsa Jayson, James Arget and Cipreh each trying to reach 200 endorsements.
We have two 'blog candidates': Riverini and Ripard Teg. Under normal circumstances - like in my previous CSM article, before we saw a field of less-than-35 - both would have severe trouble making the cut. Now, however, both have a very good shot at being on CSM8. Likewise, Trebor is now almost guaranteed a CSM seat of some kind.
CSM8 has the lowest number of candidates in the history of the CSM, and that number will only go down after the pre-election. A poorly publicized pre-election using a new endorsement system, combined with voter apathy, risks a significantly lower number of candidates on the actual STV ballot. As usual in low-turnout elections, organized blocs stand to benefit the most, but with so few candidates almost everyone with a vague amount of support could get one of the 14 seats.
Fon Revenhort has been interviewed by Xander Phoena and elucidates his nationalist/racist views after about the 20 minute mark. It's kind of surprising that this guy passed CCP vetting two years in a row, it's not like his views were hidden (despite being moderated out on the forums in some places). Well worth a listen.