Students have been arguing for the introduction of lists of candidates for years now but never succeeded in getting the requisite two-thirds majority in favour of an amendment to the election regulations.On Tuesday, however, they did get that majority. At an anonymised UC poll, seventeen councillors voted in favour of the proposal, while five voted against it and one person refrained from voting.
The regulations stipulate that the number of seats per list will be determined by dividing the number of votes obtained by the number of votes needed for a seat on the council. As a result, a list’s highest-ranking students will be able to join the council even when they do not receive all that many votes.
In order to grant low-ranking candidates who do receive a lot of votes a better chance of joining the council, it will be made possible for students to be elected to the council on the basis of preferential votes. If a candidate’s votes exceed 50 per cent of the electoral threshold, this candidate will be given preferential treatment and will be granted a seat instead of a candidate from the same list who ranks higher on the list but did not pass the 50 per cent threshold.
The newly drawn-up election regulations come with a few other rules, as well. For instance, list names must not exceed 35 characters and must not be able to be mixed up with other, previously submitted list names. Proposals put forward in the council to prohibit direct connections to companies or political parties that are active nationally, or to guarantee a certain level of diversity, did not make it into the election regulations. However, students can still stand for election on their own, which basically means they will be forming a one-person list.
Founding a party
One of the most ardent advocates for an electoral system involving lists is Jasper Klasen, a student representative on the council. He is very glad that the new system has finally come to pass. “Next year will mark ten years since students first asked for a new system,” says Klasen. Behind the scenes, he is busy founding a new political party, which will not be a successor to Erasmian Unity, which was ‘banned’ last year. “Erasmian Unity was mainly founded to raise awareness of the need to introduce a party-based system. The party I’m working on will be a completely new party with actual ideas that seeks to promote students’ interests.”
Student-run political parties who wish to stand for the University Council in the next elections will have some time to prepare. The next elections probably will not take place until April or May 2022.
The University Council has twelve staff representatives as well as twelve student representatives. University employees will continue to stand for election on behalf of their respective faculties or departments, as students used to do.