FIA presidential candidate David Ward has today written to the Member Clubs as the 'support' letter issue threatens to turn election into a "farce".
He claims that the organisation's election rules could prevent any candidate from being eligible to challenge the incumbent Jean Todt in a letter which reveals that in the North American region 11 out of 12 clubs (ACNs and ASNs) have already signed a support agreement for Jean Todt at an FIA meeting in Montevideo more than six months before the election began.
This leaves just one club (Automovil Club de El Salvador) available to nominate a Vice President Sport to another candidate’s list - which is a requirement to be eligible in the Presidential election.
Re: FIA 2013 Election Procedures and Vice Presidents for Sport
In March this year at an FIA meeting in Montevideo, Uruguay, Jean Todt obtained a support agreement from member clubs for a further term as President. Among the signatories were eleven of the twelve national sporting associations and national automobile associations (ASNs and ACNs) from North America.
In order to be eligible to stand in the FIA presidential election in 2013 a candidate must propose a Vice President for Sport from each of seven regions including North America. The written commitments of support that Jean Todt obtained from ASNs and ACNs prior to the beginning of the election process leave only one club in the North American region that is not already formally committed. That club is from El Salvador (see table below).
The absurd situation in which just one club in North America may determine whether or not there can be a challenger to Jean Todt risks turning the FIA election into a farce. It shows clearly the detrimental effect that the Montevideo support agreement is having on the 2013 election. If any of the signatories decide to provide a Vice President to a rival candidate they have no alternative but to face the embarrassment of breaking a commitment of support for Jean Todt that they made in his presence at the Montevideo meeting - an agreement which was then subject to a photo-call and a press announcement. This is why I am asking for the support letters to be recognised as a clear breach of the FIA's rules and revoked in my complaint to the Ethics Committee.
In complete contrast to the FIA, there were six candidates in the recent election for the Presidency of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC provides 'Directions' to their members on the election process including Article 11 which states, “As the voting is secret, IOC members are prohibited individually or collectively, from announcing in any form whatsoever their intention to vote or from any public invitation to vote for a candidate” . It is regrettable that the FIA does not apply a similar rule which would prevent support agreements entirely.
The FIA's Mobility clubs are subject to a different system because the six current Vice Presidents for Mobility are independently elected by their regions. This is far more democratic and avoids the bizarre situation now facing the ACNs and ASNs in North America. The solution is for all the Vice Presidents for both sport and mobility to be elected by their own geographical areas. They could then be removed entirely from all proposed presidential lists and enjoy their own independent mandate and accountability to the region that elected them.
Another important reform is to substantially reduce the number of clubs required to nominate a presidential candidate from the current level of 26. This very high threshold, being used for the first time in the 2013 election, favours the incumbent and makes it almost impossible for the FIA to have multiple candidates as the IOC had in their election this year. Unfortunately the FIA's system is geared towards having no rival candidates and no choice.
In standing as a candidate in the 2013 election my purpose has been to encourage debate about the need for further reforms in the FIA. I believe there are serious flaws in the FIA's governance system. In this letter I have highlighted major deficiencies in the presidential election process. There are other equally serious problems, for example, regarding the transparency and adequacy of the FIA's financial accounts, and with the Senate's supervisory role which is not being carried out as envisaged by the FIA Statutes.
The FIA deserves better than this. The FIA membership should not turn a blind eye to abuse of the FIA election system or tolerate deficient governance provisions in the sport that are not accepted in the mobility pillar. The FIA is a family of clubs from sport and mobility that should be subject to the same rules and standards of governance.
Regardless of who you support in the election, I respectfully propose that your club now calls for reforms to the FIA governance system to ensure that it is fit for purpose. Jean Todt has not yet published any manifesto, so clubs can still encourage him to adopt the reforms I have proposed. Today regrettably the FIA is falling below best practice in standards of governance and that should be a serious concern to your club. This year's election is an opportunity for change to build a better FIA.