Nieuws - 31 januari 2008

Differences declining between student parties

The views of the VeSte and PSF student parties are starting to resemble each other more and more. This point arose during a debate on democracy in the university, organised by the Progressive Student Fraction on Tuesday 29 January.

During the last Student Council elections, there was little difference between the party programmes of the two fractions. This point was raised during a debate held by the Student Council at the time. ‘In the past it was easy to distinguish radical lefties from right-wing frat brats, but that’s no longer the case,’ said a student during the debate. The PSF decided it was time to hold a debate on whether it's worth maintaining separate student parties and elections.
Sicco Stortelder of the PSF: ‘We hoped that we would get input from students. It’s always a problem: only students who are really interested in university policy come to evenings like this.’
Although there were not many present, the discussion was fiery. One question raised was whether the parties actually represent the students and whether the party structure itself is not confusing and obstructive. ‘In the end the Student Council is there to address broad policy lines and all students have to be able to depend on it. There are few issues that you disagree about as a council. Maybe the party system leads to parochialism,’ suggests Rembrandt Koppelaar, a former student council member.
Discussing elections, those present raised the question whether students actually know what a party or candidate stands for. ‘I suspect that many students vote for someone they know, and that forces a party to adopt a populist approach. I don’t agree with this,’ said Edwin Zea Escamilla, a PSF member. Chick Tassi of the Wageningen student union WSO: ‘We probably just have to be satisfied with things as they are. Call it the ‘democracy game’ – you just have to make sure you play it smart during the elections.’