Why RIBA presidents are always doomed to fail

Mark Middleton, Grimshaw

We must double the term of office if we want the profession’s figurehead to achieve anything meaningful

One thing is certain: it wouldn’t have taken very long to count the ballots in the RIBA presidential election. But then again it never does. With an 18.97% turnout, just one in five bothered to vote and Alan Jones emerged as our new president.

Turnout rates have been fluctuating between 16% and 18% for a decade. The election of Sunand Prasad in 2006 was a notable exception when 27% rushed to the booths. I have to say I had high hopes that there would be a better turnout this year as the campaign was certainly spicier than usual, making the pages of the Guardian and the Financial Times who referred to it as a “bitter” campaign. I was convinced that with extra coverage and accusations of institutional racism, financial mismanagement and death threats, our collective interests would peak. But no, a mere 3% more voted than two years earlier. It did make me wonder what it would take to get us interested, but I don’t think that even a celebrity death match between the next presidential candidates, Hunger Games-style, on the steps of Portland Place would see the turnout bother the 30% mark.

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