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Mode of Electing a President of the Association


The question was raised at the Annual Meeting whether the present system of nominating a President∗ by the Council is the best that can be devised, the objection being that deference to its nomination, and a delicate consideration of the feelings of the nominated, prevent the members substituting any other names on the balloting list, should they be so disposed. On the other hand, it is considered by some that the objections, which a few years ago were so strongly felt by a majority of the members as to lead to the abandonment of the old system, continue in force, and ought to make the Association pause before returning to it. It is thought by many that the system of nomination and balloting now in use by our Association involves a minimum amount of personal annoyance, and a maximum amount of fairness. To have the rival claims of Brown, Smith, and Jones canvassed in an open meeting may be exciting, or even amusing, but is perhaps scarcely edifying. An alternative scheme has, however, been suggested. It is this: That the Council shall, as regards the election of a President, nominate, say, three Presidents, any one of whom, or none of whom, may be elected. It should be remembered that when the balloting papers were adopted at the suggestion of the late Dr. Parsey, during his Presidency, the hope and belief were entertained that the members would exercise their undoubted right of substituting other names than those nominated by the Council, should they desire so to do. If the scheme has failed it is not the fault of the Council, but the general body of members, who neglect to make use of the remedy placed in their hands by the Rules of the Association for the very purpose of giving expression to opinions and wishes diverging from those suggested by the Council. It was Dr. Parsey's desire that such divergence should be indicated and take effect through the balloting papers presented to the Annual Meeting, and not by verbal expression—that is to say, by the silent but effective pen rather than by the tongue, confessedly an unruly member. One member at least, Dr. Urquhart, objected at the time to this limitation in the mode of opposing the nomination of the Council, but the current of opinion ran strongly in the opposite direction, and hence the tacit adoption of a practice in the election of President which has obtained to the present time, and which, indeed, is the natural outcome of the existing system. If this system fails to give satisfaction to the majority of members, let the Association return to the old method, or to the middle course which we have mentioned, but it would be well before arriving at a conclusion not to forget altogether the disadvantages formerly felt when the merits and claims of rival names were openly discussed at the Annual Meeting.

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* Our remarks are confined to the office of President, because his election takes place annually as a matter of course, while it is usual for the other officers to remain in their posts until their resignation.

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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2514-9946
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Mode of Electing a President of the Association

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