I have now had the chance to take a look at Jean Todt’s first official publication in the 2013 FIA election campaign and I don’t think there is much that can be disputed in it. Jean has done a lot in his first term of office. The document is looking backwards at what has been achieved. There is half a page at the end about the future and it reveals nothing.
“While satisfaction can be taken from these achievements, a new set of goals has to be defined to take the FIA even further forward,” it says. “From continuing to structure the FIA so that it can help realise the ambitions and aspirations of clubs worldwide, to the development of safe, sustainable and successful motor sport from grass roots to world championship level and on to reinforcing the FIA’s commitment to social and environmental responsibility in the interests of road safety and sustainable mobility, Jean Todt and his team are determined to continue the FIA’s progress through further modernisation, diversification of resources and even greater integration of the regions. Shortly, Jean Todt and his team will reveal more details of their plans for the future. The path to renewal has been navigated, now it’s time to move forward.”
It is not a manifesto. I am sure there is sound political thinking going on within Todt’s team. They do not want to commit to what they are planning before all other manifestos are out there. That way they can head off the opposition by including their rivals’ policies in their own manifesto. This sort of stuff in politics is as old as the hills.
I note also that a letter is being circulated amongst the clubs that tries to throw mud at Ward’s campaign. This comes from Carlos Barbosa, the President of the Automóvel Club de Portugal, who is complaining about “the aggressive tone being adopted against the current President, including the stirring up of false rumour and innuendo in the press, and the calling into question of the institution itself” which, he feels, is “against the interest of the clubs”.
He blames this on Ward and claims that “it reflects a desire for retribution and a thirst for power that has no place in a federation such as ours. There is no need to resort to negative campaigning.”
This is one possible interpretation of the questions that have been asked, but I think that at least some of Ward’s complaint should be answered properly by the Ethics Commission and not be shoved under the carpet, as Barbosa is effectively suggesting.
An election is the right time to ask such questions and trying to shut down such discussion is not helpful. If the establishment is against discussion and the candidates feel the need to point out things that seem to be wrong, then it is fair to ask in public. Club presidents are generally motivated only by what is best for their organisations, rather than what is best for the federation as a whole. That opens the way for patronage. If there were structures to stop this then the organisation would be better off. If there were no questions to be asked about the structure and systems of the FIA then all would be well, but the fact that these questions exist suggest that things need to be discussed and, perhaps, changed.
If there are rumours and innuendo in the media (and I have not seen any as yet) the voters will want to know what is true and what is not true. They are not stupid. If there is nothing to hide, all the better. Politics is not necessarily a nice game, and all of the back-and-forth is probably rather confusing for the electorate, but the best thing for all concerned is to answer questions raised in an open and transparent manner.
Here is the Todt document: