While the five candidates of the Erasmian Unity party are welcome to stand as individual candidates, CSB has informed them that they aren’t allowed to present themselves as a party in their respective candidate profiles and campaigns.

erasmian unity
The logo of the new ‘party’, which the students weren’t allowed to display together with their profile photos.

EUR’s University Council is the only UC in the Netherlands that uses a list of individual candidates for its elections rather than party-list proportional representation. Until two years ago, candidates could only be elected to the council by fellow faculty students. We are currently in the second year of a two-year pilot project in which students stand university-wide for a council seat. Nevertheless, they are still expected to campaign as individuals: they are not allowed to form a list with likeminded candidates.

Five students believed they could improve their chances of landing a seat by campaigning under a joint programme, logo and name. Jasper Klasen, Jelrik Westra, Joep Schoenmakers, Ellora Sen and Luca Kriese decided to present themselves as candidates of the Erasmian Unity party. They listed the party and its key points of departure in their candidate profiles and pictures on EUR’s intranet.

Not allowed

The students had to remove these references to the party, ruled the CSB. “The elections are about individuals rather than parties. As an individual candidate, you are allowed to commit yourself to certain objectives that you have in common with other candidates. Apart from that, it needs to be absolutely clear that students are voting for people rather than parties,” wrote the committee in an email to the five candidates.

According to the CSB, you aren’t allowed to promote a party in your council campaign either. “The rules of conduct for the campaign should be seen as special exemptions from the rules that usually apply on campus.” For example, you normally wouldn’t be allowed to put up posters, but candidates are allowed to do so in certain areas in the run-up to the elections. “These exceptions are made for individual candidates rather than parties,” says Denise Korthals Altes from the Central Electoral Committee. In addition, a party profile would put competing candidates at a disadvantage if they’d find out shortly before the election week that they would be standing against a larger bloc for their seats.


It isn’t entirely clear what constitutes party politics exactly in the context of the University Council elections. “Naturally, we can hardly forbid a group of students from founding an association or website,” confirms Korthals Altes. “In addition, candidates are allowed to refer to a personal affinity with an existing political party like VVD or PvdA.”

For the moment, the students of Erasmian Unity will be adopting the committee’s suggested compromise. They will be removing the party logo from their profile photos and no longer presenting themselves as party members. In their candidacy statements, they will refer to their plan to found such a party. At any rate, Klasen says this year’s elections highlight why it would be a good idea to eventually settle on a party-based system. “You can hardly expect students to make an in-depth study of the differences between 38 individual candidates. If we had three or four distinct movements, it would become a lot easier to make a well-considered substantive choice. Right now, there’s a serious risk of students casting their vote for a candidate simply because they know him or her.”

In response to the affair, Ellora Sen has decided to refrain from referring to the party in her profile altogether – to avoid muddying the waters even further. “Although I do still support the basic principles formulated by Erasmian Unity.”

The election week starts on 19 May. Until the end of 26 May, students can cast their votes online. The full list of candidates can be found on EUR’s intranet. (Login required)


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