Postponement of the elections of the Austrian Students’ Union 2019: Open letter
Dear Chancellor Kurz,
dear Minister Faßmann,
as we were informed recently the ministry for education, science and research decided to postpone the agreed date of the election of the Austrian Students’ Union from 21st to 23rd of May to the beginning of June. This was decided without any information or consultation of us, the legitimate representation of all students in Austria. The only excuse brought up in this context has been a made-up schedule conflict with regards to the upcoming election of the European Parliament.
Besides the completely incomprehensive solo effort and the breach of oral agreements by yourself, Minister Faßmann, the postponement leads to several problems.
The local students’ unions already started to plan and organise the election. This means that not only several rooms are reserved but also volunteers are indispensable and necessary to hold the election. As the new date from 4th to 6th of June is before the exam period (mid or end of June) this means that many volunteers are not able to help. This will cause an immense organisational and financial additional expense.
According to federal law, higher education institutions which offer part-time study programmes can move one election day to Friday or Saturday before the election: If we have the period between 4th to 6th of June as election days, this would be the 31st of May or the 1st of June. As the 30th of May (Thursday) is a holiday in Austria, it does not make any sense to vote at that weekend. This naturally means a massive decrease of the turnout, which can not be in the ministry’s interest. This has been one of the reasons why we jointly decided with you, Minister Faßmann, to hold the elections in May.
The decision to postpone the upcoming election causes heavy damage to a relationship that so far has been characterized by treatment on an equal base and mutual respect. The election of the Austrian Students’ Union and the election of the European Parliament are not connected at any point. It is a simple excuse in order not to allow any discussion about the effects. A fruitful cooperation can not work this way.
We ask the the ministry for education, science and research to stand by to Minister Faßmann’s words and to allow the elections to be held in May.