Published on September 19th, 2012 | by Andrea Gonzi1
Change, at a Price
Admittedly, despite encompassing some of the brightest minds on the island, the student political system isn’t one that changes too often or too drastically. When change does come into play, things start to get interesting. Recently, it seems to have been KPS’ turn to receive a new facelift; from the inclusion of sub-committees that strive to give an administrative input, to the recent ‘microscopical’ amendments to the way KPS commissioners and co-ordinators are elected. However, it seems this very change comes at a costly price…
The KPS branch of KSU’s executive previously used to be nominated and elected on the same day by the student organisations themselves (and not by the student body as is popularly thought). To put it mildly this has resulted in some highly interesting outcomes, such as last year’s Abigail Cremona being elected independently vis-a-vis the two political giants on campus; Pulse and SDM. In a system where the said political giants dominate everything that has to do with representation on campus, this came as a breath of fresh air to many. This does in no way mean that the two don’t do their job well, but it showed to us mere plebs that the political system wasn’t completely closed off to unaffiliated few.
The powers to be weren’t impressed by these turn of events. The standing orders of KPS (bafflingly enough) were amended nem com to halt any more ‘surprise’ guests from crashing their party. As it now stands, any potential nominee needs to hand in his nomination along with his manifesto 4 days prior to the KPS election (article 4.1 of the KPS standing orders). These in turn will be published to the public 3 days prior to Election Day (article 4.3). In short, this allows the administration to know the who and what about any potential candidate beforehand. To add insult to injury, the administration would have an extra 1 day ‘notice’ to better prepare for this election; in politics this is a huge advantage. Knowing who your ‘enemy’ is, what he is going to say, and what his plan of action is can be the trump card in winning any election. Coupled with the already huge powers any incumbent entity has, this effectively makes the party in power even more assured of an absolute victory.
One may ask, ‘Wouldn’t the neutral candidates also possess those aforementioned advantages?’ Apart from the element of incumbency, one need keep certain factors in mind, namely the nature of KPS elections itself. To put it bluntly, these types of elections are all about political leverage: how many strings you can pull and how many promises you can make. If it were simply a matter of giving a straightforward presentation in front of a group of friends or a lecturer then this type of amendment would work, but where a plethora of machinations and ‘behind-the-curtains’ manoeuvres happen, this can potentially cripple the chances that any neutral candidate may possess to even hope to give the other candidates a run for their money.
In all fairness, this does not mean that SDM (being the current incumbents) are guaranteed a walkover. Larger and more established groups, such as PULSE, are not as affected by these changes vis-a-vis neutral individuals. Both political organizations make their manifesto and KPS candidates public during KSU elections. Moreover, they can also pull their own political strings, if they so desire, to attempt to affect the outcome of the elections; something which neutral individuals might find hard to do. Therefore, although they will be affected slightly, they do not stand to lose all that much.
The group that loses the most are not only those unaffiliated candidates who wish to attempt to test the hegemony that currently exists in the student body, but also the ‘common’ student. By effectively ensuring that all doors are left closed to anyone with a different mind frame, the invisible grip that politics holds on KPS will be amplified to the detriment of the student body itself. Paradoxically, the fact that most of the student organisations voted in favour of this amendment adds a bittersweet taste to this tragedy.
View the new KPS Standing Orders by clicking the link.