Students halt vote at major university

The election of a new vice rector for Panteion University, one of Greece’s most prestigious, was thrown into chaos yesterday when leftist students interrupted the poll by burning the ballot boxes to protest the introduction of the recent law on tertiary education. Dozens of students, members of groups affiliated to the Communist Party and other leftist organizations, set fire to 12 ballot boxes and demanded abrogation of the law. The recently passed legislation allows all students to vote when electing university officials. The previous law stipulated that each student political group would nominate one representative to vote. Many leftists feel the new law gives too much power to the New Democracy affiliated DAP-NDFK as it generally garners the biggest support at universities. Some 10,000 students and 250 Panteion employees were eligible to vote in yesterday’s poll. The protesting students said they also wanted to make a stand against aspects of the law that they feel could lead to the end of free public education. «This law is undemocratic as it seeks to undermine public universities and promote private ones,» Babis Kavadias, a member of the Communist Party-affiliated Panspoudastiki, told Kathimerini. «This sort of action is clearly undemocratic and does not honor the student groups,» Fanis Roidis of DAP-NDFK said. The university senate is due to meet today to discuss the issue.