F1 » 6 December 2013
Kate Walker: Jean Todt gets second term as FIA president
Kate Walker: "While it might appear that a unanimous vote in a one-horse race is little to crow about, the simple fact that there were no abstentions speaks volumes..."
Used to keeping her eye on the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing that makes F1 a political melodrama, here columnist Kate Walker reports directly from Paris after Jean Todt's uncontested victory in the FIA presidential election...
It's official. Jean Todt has been voted in for a second term as FIA president, following a race in which he ran unopposed, despite attempts by Briton David Ward to mount a challenge.
The vote took place at Paris' InterContinental Le Grand hotel, and saw Todt receive unanimous support from all 250 delegates in attendance, with no abstentions recorded. While it might appear that a unanimous vote in a one-horse race is little to crow about, the simple fact that there were no abstentions speaks volumes.
With no alternative candidate, abstaining from votes was the only way in which the FIA electorate would have been able to register a protest vote either against Todt as an individual or against his platform. While Ward's election attempt was predicated on the widespread support the Briton claimed to have from the FIA member clubs, none of that support was in evidence in Paris on Friday morning.
But Ward's presence was certainly felt, and his campaign was alluded to in Todt's acceptance speech, in which the Frenchman spoke out against defaming the Federation for personal gain.
“This unity - the unity of the FIA family - is a precious asset that we must protect,” Todt said. “This is a fundamental value that we must respect and defend. It is a duty for all of us and even more so for those who aspire to positions of responsibility within our organisation.
“I have nothing against competition. On the contrary, it has always been at the heart of my professional life. It is legitimate that it is exercised in a democratic election such as that of the FIA. Competition is a good thing because it forces you to give the best of yourself. For this reason, I welcome healthy debate. But debate should focus on ideas, not on individuals. It should lift an organisation, not lower it; it should strengthen an organisation, not weaken it. Above all, debate must be based on truth, honesty, and integrity.
“I deeply regret that in the course of these last few weeks we have had unfounded insinuations cast on the FIA's governance, the transparency of its accounts, and the integrity of its members,” he continued. “Worse, the Press was used repeatedly to spread these false claims, where they only harm the image of our FIA family. Faced with this irresponsible attack, we took a decision not to engage in a public fight with the media which would have only been destructive for our organisation.
“Instead we chose to address our clubs directly with the truth. We led a campaign based on honesty and ideas and policies for the future. You fully understood and supported this, and for that I thank you sincerely.”
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