sábado, 28 de agosto de 2010

FIDE Elections: the final stretch



The 2010 chess Olympiad begins on September 19 , with the FIDE Congress beginning shortly afterwards.  Everything will be decided before the Olympiad ends on the 4th of October.  Incumbent FIDE president Ilyumzhinov is expected to sweep the election against challenger Karpov.  Latest rumours point to Kirsan having a minimum 120 guaranteed votes as of Friday August 27.  (There are approximately 170 voting members)  Officially, on his campaign website (http://www.onefide.com/) the number is only 90, but as pointed out on numerous occasions here, Ilyumzhinov's tactics include down-playing the true extent of his support in the chess world.

India waited until it was convinced that Ilyumzhinov was the likely winner of the election before it publically declared its vote this past week.  India will vote for the incumbent president, citing guarantees that India's zonal status will be upgraded to separate zone at the upcoming FIDE Congress.

For a number of years now India has voiced its desire to become a separate zone.  This seems only logical, especially considering that India's population is in excess of 1 billion!  However, the wheels of change in FIDE are known to turn very slowly--except at election time.

I consider it perfectly natural--and ethical-- that India would give its vote  in exchange for a zonal update.  I am certain that India could have got the same deal from Karpov, but it appears that the Indian federation does not have confidence in Karpov winning at this point.

With the campaigns slowly winding down these past 2 weeks, both Karpov and Ilyumzhinov have never the less been in the chess news visiting and trying to drum up last minute support.  Karpov's campaign team has desperately posted articles attacking Ilyumzhinov for everything from flying on extra-terrestrial spaceships without a license to having a hand in the killing of a journalist.  When the corrupt president of the Peru chess federation was removed from office (just days ago), this was also painted as a black eye for Kirsan (Peru had committed its vote to the incumbent)

For his part, Ilyumzhinov has been talking about another 2 million dollars of sponsorship (Lebanon), either from a known acquaintance of his or from a Lebanese bank--though there is some confusion on the exact details.  Once more Kirsan's little list of shell companies (including Global Chess) have made an appearance...

All of this matters little, however, as the FIDE election has been over for several months now.  While many consider that there can never be any real democracy in an organization that allows 1 vote for each country, the only important fact is that the election will be decided by exactly that way of counting votes!  And it is not likely to change in the near future.

Some have also criticized FIDE's lack of apparent democracy by pointing out that  presidents can serve terms of office for impractically long periods of time (as in Kirsan's 15 years so far).  I know exactly how they feel

Since FIDE's inception in 1924, there have only been 6 presidents!  Rueb held the leading post for 25 years; Rogard for 21 years. In recent times, Campomanes held the post for 13 years (and then held the honorary title of president until his death earlier this year).  Only Euwe and Olafsson each held the post for less than 10 years.

There is no doubt that in FIDE it is the president who dominates policy making and influences critical decisions and changes (if any).  We chess players record chess history by measuring the influence of the world champions; chess politicians do the same thing , but with the FIDE president.

Be that as it may, however, are you going to level the same criticism to the IOC?  Since its inception in 1894, there have only been 8 (!) presidents.  One president--Coubertin--held the office for a total of 29 years.  Samaranch held it for 21 years, and one president actually died in office!  The current president (Rogge) has held the top post since 2001.

No doubt that FIDE should be reorganized and run in a different manner than it has been these past 2 decades or so.  Perhaps setting a limitation to how long someone can hold office might be a good place to start.  Perhaps giving countries like India and China more than 1 vote each might be sensible also.  There are many good ideas floating around out there.  But without the political will to actually want to change things, then nothing will ever get beyond the complaining stage.

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