Belgium: Student election success

The Active Left Students (ALS), the student organisation of the LSP/MAS, the Belgian affiliate of the cwi, has won a second election victory at the Flemish university in Brussels.

We won the two places on the student council which were up for election. Our comrade Simon Van Haeren was re-elected with an increased vote of 43%, receiving 893 votes. The other comrade Tim Joosens came second in the election with 778 votes or 37%. This is a stunning result considering only 2057 students participated in the elections.

With this result the ALS has shows that our campaigns against the Bologna agreement for privatisation and commercialisation of the universities and colleges have made an impact amongst a big layer of students. In the past year ALS activists have been at the forefront of a campaign against price increases in the student restaurant and cuts in social services for students.

The official “non-political” student organisation, List Student Democracy or LSD, rubbished our campaign claiming that the Liberal minister of education is doing her best to keep education accessible for everyone and that the hike in meal prices were necessary to keep the university afloat. Their election material consisted entirely of attacks on our demands. Later on in the campaign when it looked like we might win the election the campus buzzed with rumours that the LSD might be organising a boycott of the elections. The rationale being that a failure to reach the participation quota might have made the elections invalid.

When all the votes were cast it was clear that the minimum turn out had been missed by a few votes. By that time the opponents of ALS were so demoralised by their poor ratings that they agreed to recognise the elections and hand us the victory.

Next year ALS will campaign for a more democratic student representation at Brussels University. We want to end the reign of the little cosy trainee bureaucracy which works in partnership with the board of university directors. We will represent the students inside and outside the social council of the universities. Our opposition will be real and mobilising. Stop the commercialisation and privatisation of our higher education. Education should be free and accessible for all.

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May 2004