Monday, January 18, 2010

Candidates by Consensus

This evening is the AGM of the Dublin South East Constituency Council of the Labour party at which the executive officers for 2010 will be elected. I have been nominated for the position of Treasurer, which like all bar one of the positions, is uncontested. In fact the only contested position is that of Assistant Secretary, and one of the candidates has indicated that he doesn't want to stand effectively leaving no election to be held for the entire constituency organisation.

This got me thinking about other organisations that I have been involved in and how their committees and boards are filled. As a student I was quite involved in several societies, the Students' Union and the Central Societies Committee but in all my involvement I only had to face a ballot three times - once for auditor of the Maths Society which I lost, then joining the executive of the CSC where I was elected 5th out of 8 positions and the following year heading the poll for ordinary exec members in CSC. For every other role I was elected unopposed or re-appointed as the incumbent.

It really appears to me that in most organisations, the appointment of officers is one part stitch up by inner cabal and one part grabbing anyone who appears even slightly interested in being involved. I would have thought in a political group like a Constituency Council there would at least be more than 10 people wanting to get more involved but it seems that even there apathy holds strong.

In fact the same could also be said of selection conventions for candidates. In the European election there was no convention as the sitting MEP wanted to run again and the organisation deemed only one candidate should run. There was a bit of a scrap over the alternative list. For the locals, in Pembroke-Rathmines the three existing Councillors all stood again and nobody thought to challenge at the convention stage. In SEIC, where there was only one existing Councillor, only one name was put forward after the organisation determined that a two candidate strategy was to be followed.

Between now and June there will more than likely be two selection conventions. The first will pick two candidates for the next General Election of whom one will be the incumbent Ruairí Quinn. Other names that could be put forward include Bacik, Humphries and Quinn but will the membership actually end up voting? The second will chose a candidate for the Mayor of Dublin election which may happen in June. Following Dermot Lacey's self promotion in the last week or so, it will be interesting to see if any other name is put forward to be the party's candidate - I wouldn't hold my breath.

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