Whatever happened to Ron?

Of course, if you don’t like any of the candidates standing for election there is always RON. The infamous Re-Open Nominations who gives Green Party members the power to reject all before them like some ancient despot hurling their below par slaves into a pit of wolves.

Sadly, due to heavy handed EU regulations and stultifying political correctness the Party no longer keeps wolves for this purpose, but an archaic relic remains from those happy days – the box for RON.

One of the difficulties with RON is that he almost never wins – and in single seat elections like GPEx absolutely never.

There’s a couple of reasons for this. First most people assume that someone who isn’t very good at the job is usually better than having no one in the post. Second, for RON to win you’d actually have to have a campaign  for people to vote that way, and as far as I’m aware, there has never been a serious public campaign for a candidate(s) to be thrown out.

That genuinely makes me a little sad, but a little relieved too.

The Party, which has plenty of people who are genuinely capable of being unpleasant to each other, hates negative campaigning, never rewards it and even being snarky about a rival candidate is likely to lose you votes. In my view this makes the party a little over sensitive but I’d rather that than candidates who damage or undermine their party colleagues in their eagerness to rise to the top.

I’ve certainly cast my vote for RON a few times, but I try to use it sparingly as most people I don’t agree with have a point of view – even if it’s wrong – and have the right to prove me wrong  if elected. I only take RON out of the box for people who simply should not have stood and would be out performed by a piece of rotting wood.

If asked in private I’d be happy to give my view of candidates to one post or another but I think, in public, I don’t want to see a culture develop of making elections bruising bear pits where colleagues fall out and working relationships are burned to the ground. We are all members of the same party after all and if internal elections end up damaging our credibility or losing us activists then we’re doing them wrong.

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5 Comments

  1. If there is only one candidate for the post, I always vote RON first preference – I’d rather see them run again against someone than have someone appointed to a position uncontested.

  2. I don’t think you’re alone in that, but I tend to think it’s a bit unfair to punish the one person who was willing to stand – it’s not like it was their responsibility to make sure someone stood against them :)

  3. That’s true, but I don’t see it as punishment, being beaten by RON (in the unlikely event that it happens) wouldn’t stop them standing again if they wanted to.

  4. We have someone at our student union who does a similar thing. If there is an election for a small time post (one elected at a meeting) he will abstain if there is no opposition. We call him Captain Abstention. Someone’s going to get T-Shirts printed for next year…

  5. However, what I actually meant to say (before I saw the comments which reminded me of that random anecdote) is that our system of RONing someone is rather more progressive (in my view) than most universities, and in fact the official advice. In the GP, we don’t eliminate RON from the election, meaning that more people have to have preferenced the winner before RON than vice versa, which seems the logical way to do it. However, most SUs run it so that RON is just a simple candidate, meaning that more people have to first preference RON than another candidate, then that candidate’s supporter have to transfer to RON to make him/her/it/zir (what gender is RON?) beat another candidate, and so on. This means that RON actually has to win the election, and 99% of the time RON is eliminated in the first round, meaning there is absolutely no chance of nominations being reopened. At some point I’m going to fight for a change to this system at my uni, but until then the GP can be content that it follows a system that means we are much more likely to RON candidates than most organisations.

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