As most of us know Freshers’ Week is coming up; it is a time when new students are welcomed to the university and get the opportunity to meet their student organisation, other student organisations and some possible future employers. In other words, they are exposed to new experiences and new ideas. In my opinion this is why someone goes to university or any higher learning facility; for the opportunity to get exposed to new experiences and new ideas. It is a place where one is free to question something; even if that something is the status quo.
The status quo question I attempt to tackle in this article is “Can third party or independent candidates be elected to KSU”. The short answer to this question is yes; but it will not be easy. However, it is my unquestioning belief that once an independent, group of independents or a third party manage this herculean task the road ahead will be much easier and shorter for future candidates. There is no first step or last step to this; there is only one step. That is for an independent, group of independents or third party to be elected to the KSU council.
To see the reality of this happening let us look back at previous attempts of independent candidates who ran for KSU. Two years ago, we saw the first independent candidate run for the KSU election; Nicholas Martinelli who ran for the role of Culture & Entertainment Officer and obtained 366 votes. The following year I ran for the role of President and obtained 440 votes. From this one can see that the desire for independent candidates or third parties is only growing.
For students interested in politics at the university of Malta they have a choice between SDM or Pulse. While either one is a perfectly good choice the fact that there are only two to choose from is not really that much of a choice. A two-party system is not really that democratic; other democracies know this so that is why they have reformed their elections to prevent a two-party duopoly from taking over their representative governments. This can be seen in countries such as Germany, New Zealand and Norway. Therefore, there is the need to reform the electoral system for the KSU elections.
There are many benefits of having many political parties involved in an election. With the presence of more parties there will be more students involved in the electoral system; therefore, more students will care and be engaged in student matters. This new influx of parties brings with it a monumental flood of new ideas and talents to the political arena; which could tackle and solve issues plaguing previous KSU administrations for years. Also, the larger parties would have to work harder to maintain their superiority as there would be much more competition. Lastly certain reforms could be made to make sure the KSU council better represents the votes of the students.
Without reforming the electoral system third parties and independents have three potential outcomes. Either they die out; in other words they run once or twice and then give up running, they join one of the two big parties or lastly, they become one of the two parties; replacing one of the two large parties. However worst of all is the fact that without reformation third parties and independents are not encouraged to participate as they become spoilers. This means they unintentionally dilute the vote of their ideologically closest ally thereby increasing the chance of an ideologically opposing party winning the elections.
Reforming the electoral system would solve all the above-mentioned problems and would give a voice to more people. Although all democracies have two main political parties, smaller parties play a crucial role under a reformed system; smaller parties are now no longer spoilers but now become king makers. Being kingmakers means that it is only through them that one of the big parties can lead; this gives the smaller parties the ability to push for policies that they wish to see implemented.
It is of note that if a third party or a group of independents or an independent candidate runs for election on the idea that the electorate should have more than two choices and claims that there should be an end to the two-party duopoly without also calling for major political reform then it is important to realise that the candidate or group of candidates does not want to end the two-party duopoly but rather be part of the two-party duopoly they claim to be against.
Written by: Kris Bajada