NFU council members could be in for long night when they sit down to elect the union’s leaders next Wednesday (24 February).

The election will get under way at 4pm. But complicated rules requiring a clear winner for the positions of president and deputy president mean in theory it could continue into the early hours.

NFU president Peter Kendall and deputy president Meurig Raymond must secure 75% of the vote to remain in their posts after serving two consecutive terms in office.

In a straightforward contest, Mr Kendall must see off just one challenger. But the deputy president post will be contested by four candidates. And this is where the fun could begin.

If Mr Raymond fails to secure 75% of the vote and no challenger secures more than 50%, then no winner is declared and the contender with least votes drops out. Mr Raymond stays in the contest and a second round of voting is held.

If this fails to determine a winner, the process will be repeated with the least popular candidate dropping out and a third round of voting taking place between the final two candidates.

But even this could fail to uncover a clear winner. It is possible, for example, for Mr Raymond to win 60% of the vote against a last remaining opponent who secures 40%. In this scenario, neither man has enough votes to win.

At this stage, Mr Raymond would be forced to stand down. Re-nominations would be requested, allowing other contenders to stand again – along with additional candidates from the council floor.

Each candidate would be then entitled to speak for three minutes on their priorities should they be elected. Then the electoral process would begin again, potentially over and over, until a candidate secures more than 50% of the vote.

Electing the vice-president will be simpler. With no incumbent, a single candidate must secure at least 50% of the vote to be declared the winner. But with 10 contenders, this too could take time.

For more on the NFU election and to see the candidates’ policies click here.