Active students at the University of Malta agreed that a change is needed in the current electoral system for KSU. Last Friday a debate was held between past presidents of Pulse and SDM and past independent candidates to discuss the electoral current system. The lack of student activists was also mentioned.
“Partisan politics is something, that for me, is outdated” said Nicholas Martinelli, a former independent candidate, when he was commenting on the current state of the KSU elections. He feels that decisions should not be made based solely on colours but rather on merit – what can this candidate bring to the table?
The current system favors the larger organisations, such as Pulse and SDM, said Johnluke Ellul, former Pulse president. This issue occurs for a number of reasons, one being that these organisations have been around for many years and have established themselves with the students.
An independent candidate has to make oneself heard over the voices of the larger organisations. Having an organisation to support you when running for KSU makes a large difference said Neil Smart Costantino, former SDM president. In such a case one is not running alone and also has the human resources to put on a proper campaign and actually contest in the election.
Nicholas Martinelli said that when he was contesting he was operating on a 70 euro budget and a few friends to help make flyers and so on. Martinelli did not contest the elections a couple years ago to go against SDM or Pulse, but simply to encourage students to make them see that they can also be part of KSU without being apart of SDM or Pulse.
This encouraged Kris Bajada to contest the elections as an independent candidate twice. On his first try he received little support from his friends, “Do you hate your course?”, they asked him. Costantino also said that “a teacher (said), to a colleague of mine, you are wasting your time.”
This is evidence that some lecturers and students are not supportive of student activism. While the electoral system does seem to favor these larger organisations another problem lies beneath it all. A lack of student activism. All four panelists mentioned this.
A change needs to happen at the University, we need to encourage students to participate within student organisations. Bajada mentioned the wealth of knowledge he has gained from being an active student. He has learned things which if he only attended his lectures would remain unknown to him.
The general consensus from the debate was that we as active students must work harder to remove this existing ideology from the students who are entering the University and that will eventually lead to more independent candidates as well as a change in the electoral system in the future.