Student parties return to the table for covenant, elections take place digitally
Negotiations on the electoral covenant for the upcoming elections in April have been reopened. At the request of the Executive Board, Rien Wijnhoven, Chair of the University Council, entered into talks with all ten student parties participating in the elections.
Chair Rien Wijnhoven is optimistic about the continuation of the talks. “At School and central level, there is good cooperation between the parties, which is acknowledged by all students. With that good basis as a starting point, it should be possible to reach a covenant that can count on support from all parties well before the elections.”
Earlier, five student parties signed an open letter expressing their concerns about the negotiations. These had stalled, creating the undesirable future scenario of elections without a covenant. The student parties have been drafting this covenant annually since 2016 to regulate the way they campaign.
Elections fully digital
During earlier discussions, the question was whether elections should be fully digital and when this decision had to be made. Party Front thought that, in January, it was too early to make a final decision. The decision has now been made, according to Wijnhoven: “Part of the problem is solved because, just like last year, the elections will be held completely digitally because of the pandemic.”
There is one reservation: if the coronavirus measures are suddenly relaxed to a large extent, then the Executive Board would like to see, together with the parties, whether some form of physical elections can still be organized. However, that chance is considered small, says Martijn Stoutjesdijk, official secretary of the University Council.
Veronique Coenen, Party SAM’s chair, was one of the signatories of the open letter. She says she is happy that the negotiations have been reopened: “A covenant is in the interest of all Tilburg University students, this is also a reason that Party SAM gives high priority to the realization of this. We are confident that it will be signed by all parties before the elections take place.”
In the open letter, the five parties point to Party Front. By walking away from the negotiating table, the party is said to have blocked the establishment of a covenant. When asked, Paula Schrijver, Party Front’s chair, confirmed that the party has returned to the negotiating table. She emphasizes that in the past the party always kept options open to achieve a good end result.
“Party Front is pleased to see that the university values the covenant negotiations,” Schrijver said. “We have always looked at options to reach a covenant. Front is therefore also pleased with the addition of Mr. Wijnhoven to the negotiations. We assume that fair and professional negotiations will now take place with a covenant as the end result.”