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Election special

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David Rock's suggestion that riba council should determine who will be the institute's president is bound to arouse the wrath of the democrats both on council and in the membership generally. Younger members may be unaware of just how unusual elections to the presidency have been: it was not until 1979 that a council nomination to the post was challenged - by Owen Luder, who successfully fought Andrew Derbyshire. Owen got his cbe, but Andrew went one better with a knighthood. Since then, it has become a matter of course to have an election, although Max Hutchinson was unchallenged (still the youngest-ever president). Other institutions favour the buggins-turn form of presidency on grounds of continuity, but it sems unlikely that the riba could do anything so simple. The problem with the old system (until the last election) was that a nomination by council was tantamount to a kiss of death. This one will run and run.

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