This year as many as three parties will be battling for votes. Alongside VeSte, there are two new parties in the student council elections: a Christian party and a green international party.
After an absence of seven years, the Christian Student Party (CSF) is involved again this year. The party is not a reincarnation of the Christian party which fizzled out in 2007, but a new initiative, says Jan-Willem Kortlever. Agrotechnology student Kortlever and two of his friends decided to launch a new party about three months ago and managed between them to rustle up 11 candidates in a short period of time. All the candidates come from the student societies, but the party does not intend to focus exclusively on the societies, emphasizes Jan-Willem. ‘Religious international students are a major target group too, as are other students whose main aim in coming to Wageningen is to study and who are not active in the societies.’ The new party wants the university to be a place not just for intellectual development but also for personal development. ‘It is important to think about your attitude to life and how that influences how you relate to your fellow human beings. In that area there needs to be space for religion too. We might have got more involved in a situation like the one that blew up around the acknowledgements than the current student council did, because in our view one of the core values of a university is freedom of opinion.’
The green, international party got through too. Sustainability & Internationalisation (S&I) has five candidates standing for election: four Chinese and one Greek, who want to focus on international topics and stimulate sustainable plans at the university. The Greek student among them, Charles El-Zeind, has experience with sustainability, says Independent Member Wanjun Zhao, co-founder of S&I. El-Zeind has been actively involved in the Wageningen Environmental Platform (WEP).
VeSte is pleased to have some competition. ‘There really is some choice now,’ says VeSte council member Jaap Löwenthal. ‘There are three clear, well-structured parties with their own grassroots support. There is much more scope to give yourself a clear profile now.’
VeSte, which currently has eight members on the student council, has seven candidates standing for election. The other 23 people on its list include student society presidents and ex-VeSte council members. They are so-called ‘list-pushers’ who want to make clear to the party rank and file that they support the party’s standpoints, but do not wish to sit on the council. The CSF has some list-pushers too: nine in total. ‘But not everyone is definite about not becoming a councillor,’ says Jan-Willem. ‘If someone who is officially not in the running gets enough votes, they could just end up on the council.’