HUNDREDS are protesting a ban over a cat becoming a candidate in a new University of Aberdeen Rector election.

A group of sixty students signed a rectorial nomination form supporting Buttons the campus moggie's bid to become the new Rector in the wake of disillusionment with the election process.

The bid has already been officially rejected by the election co-ordinator because the cat was not human.

Now hundreds have supported an online campaign to have Buttons reinstated as a runner in the race to become Rector.

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It comes just two months after the University was at the centre of an "abuse of power" row as it ratified a decision to scrap the Rector election over allegations of "dirty tricks" by the campaign for Maggie Chapman, the co-convenor of the Scottish Greens.

A re-vote was called for after at least one other candidate wanted Ms Chapman, the current Rector, removed from the ballot in a row over hundreds of campaign posters being torn down.

There were complaints a smaller number of posters were also removed by other candidates but it was claimed Ms Chapman's campaign was the worst offender.

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A leaked document revealed that the elections committee indicated that the decision was against the "interests of fairness and natural justice" because Ms Chapman's team had no right of reply.

Support for the elections committee decision to ditch the vote came at the university's Senate in December which decided that "due process was followed and a new campaign for a new election is due to start on February 19.

One student backing the campaign said: "This of course has everything to do with the ridiculous election process that we have had so far."

HeraldScotland:

The nomination explains that Buttons is a white cat who lives on campus and that campaigners decided that he is the "right individual to represent the interests of the student body".

They said the reasons to vote for Buttons were that he lived locally, engages with the student daily, is a political and "is fluffy and friendly".

"Buttons is a chance for the student population to truly stand up and have their say after such an unfortunate election last year. Buttons stands for change," says the campaign group.

"Vote for Cats not Bureaucrats!"

But Phil Hannaford, the election returning officer has ruled that Buttons does not meet the requirements under the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator Guidelines to being a charity trustee.

Election co-ordinator Nicholas Edwards told the campaigners: "Both the returning officer and I appreciate Buttons' interest in the role and wish him well in his future endeavours."

More than 300 have now signed an online petition started by Alex Kither of the campaign to get as much support for an appeal against the decision.

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"We have been given 24 hours to make an appeal to the elections committee and have decided to open the petition in the hope of getting enough students engaged to prove that it is necessary for Buttons to be nominated as candidate for the sake of student interest, democracy and fluffy feline friendliness," he said.

Another campaign organiser told supporters: "With the hustings coming up on Monday the 19th, it is still crucial that we make our voices heard. Campaign for Buttons. Share our page. Be heard at the hustings. Email the election committee and ensure that the student voice is not undermined. 

"If you feel like all the other candidates do not represent your views, then stand up for Buttons. If we can learn anything from the last election, there is something fundamentally wrong with the relationship between students and university management and Buttons might very well be the way to remedy that."

The ancient post of Rector of the University of Aberdeen has a rich tradition dating back to the foundation of the institution in 1495 and has been held by notables such as former Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and Herbert Henry Asquith, steel industrialist Andrew Carnegie and actor Iain Cuthbertson.

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The Rector since 1860 was the students' only representative, and, in more recent years, their main representative on the University Court.

The University of Aberdeeen History Society supported the Buttons campaign saying: "Today Button's campaign for Rector was rejected after sixty-two students signed a rectorial nomination form for Buttons the well-known celebrity on campus. Due to him not being a 'person', he was denied his right to influence change on campus.

"Please follow and sign the new petition to have this decision revoked!"

Voting in the 2018 Rectorial Election is due to start on February 20 and the results are expected two days later.

The decision to scrap the December election was condemned by Ms Chapman, the current Rector who accused management of "abusing power and preventing good governance" and believed that the university's Court still had the ability to reverse this "stupid decision".

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The decision was made despite a call by the student body for the re-vote to be rescinded saying the decision to scrap the election was "undemocratic" and for the results to be declared.

The Senate decision meant the results of the original election were not released.