|Wednesday, 21 November 2012 16:24|
On Monday afternoon, the CIPR Council announced that its October 2012 election for President-Elect 2013 had been deemed invalid, and that a fresh election would be called. Miti Ampoma, one of two candidates in the original election, has now said that she will not be standing again in the repeated election.
In the original election, Ampoma was informed that she stood unopposed when the deadline for submissions passed. The CIPR then received the nomination of Lionel Zetter for the position of President-Elect. “Two days later, I got a message to say that things had changed and there would need to be a contest,” said Ampoma today. “I was led to believe that this was within the rules. I have been saddened and disappointed to learn of the inconsistencies within the process since then."
According to a written statement from Jane Wilson, CEO of the CIPR the appeal to consider a late nomination was considered by her and then passed onto Sally Sykes, current President of the CIPR. Zetter’s nomination was accepted “in good faith” by the Institute, and he went on to win the election with 54% of the votes cast. A complaint was registered with the CIPR in the week after the result was announced, which led to a report submitted to the Council.
The election had not run smoothly prior to the complaint, with CIPR members feeling disappointed at the candidates standing, which perhaps resulted in the low turnout of 9%. An active member of the Institute said: “Many people were very disappointed at the breadth of choice on offer and therefore didn’t vote or voted reluctantly for a candidate they didn’t believe in. Hopefully – in fact it is essential – we will see a better field of candidates come forward in the re-run.”
Lionel Zetter would not confirm whether he will be standing again. “It’s a difficult question to answer, as there hasn’t been a date set for the new election, nor has it been decided whether the election will be run under existing rules or new rules which have been proposed for the conduct of future elections,” he said. “It’s very hypothetical at this point [whether he would run again].”
Zetter said that he was aware of the potential problem when he submitted his application back in September. “My understanding was that it was within the President’s authority to allow me to stand,” he said, “otherwise I wouldn’t have wasted my own time and everyone else’s. I was very surprised and disappointed that it was overturned by Council, and I’d like to thank those who voted for me for their support.”
The set-to over the election could have a negative effect on the CIPR’s reputation as a membership body. Wilson has apologised for this, saying that “Council’s action is the first step to rebuilding trust in our election process.” Stuart Bruce, who was elected to Council in the same election, commented that the episode was “disappointing”, but also commended the CIPR’s staff on its response. “As crisis communications professionals know, what is most important is how you respond to the situation and the staff and Council team at the CIPR has done this very well.”
Bruce believes that any amendments to the electoral process should be put in place before the election is re-run. “Specifically I think it should be made easier for Presidential candidates to campaign by giving them three emails to members to state their case and debate issues – rather like Loggerheads. Important issues are at stake, particularly the importance of maintaining chartered status and the need to work with the PRCA, but not to contemplate a full merger.”
Zetter was believed to be planning to encourage a closer relationship between the CIPR and the PRCA, but he said he didn’t feel this was relevant to the re-running of the election.
And whilst Ampoma confirmed she won’t run again, she also said she couldn’t comment on whether she’ll retain her membership of the CIPR. However, she believes the episode highlights the relevancy of the Institute. “I hope this is a catalyst for transparency within the industry,” she said. “We have an independent body running these elections [the Electoral Reform Society] and this should be used. The Council has done what it’s there to do in looking at the report and acting in the best interest of CIPR members. I trust that the re-run of the election signals a fresh determination for a new start, and I will certainly be supporting what I’m sure will be excellent candidates if they come forward for the new election.”