Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The Secret(?) Ballot

The upcoming FIDE elections once again draws attention to how politics works inside the organisation. I've seen a lot of comment on various chess bulletin boards supposing to know how these things go (eg everyone gets bribed, all African nations are dupes, Western nations are discriminated against etc), but none of this matches what I have observed in practice.
For example, in the 2006 Election the PNG Chess Federation supported Bessel Kok, a decision that was announced ahead of time. During the days leading up to the voting, no one tried to get us to change our vote, offered us inducements, and in the months and years following the election, did nothing to punish us for backing the wrong horse. And in the lead up to this election I have spoken to both camps, and once again the discussions have been entirely 'political' and no inducements to vote one way or the other have been mentioned.
One of the odd things (at least to me) about the election is that voting is carried out in secret. The obvious reason for this is to prevent intimidation of voters, although democratic parliaments have all their voting in public, so as to prevent elected officials being bribed to vote a certain way. Why this is odd in terms of FIDE elections is for the following reason. Each countries voting is done via its FIDE delegate, who I assume is acting upon the instructions of their federation. And as the federation would (should?) make the decision about who it will support in a public way (during a committee meeting for example), then who each country is voting for should be known by both the commitee, and more importantly, by the federations members. Certainly when PNG makes up its mind on who it will vote for it won't be a secret, and I am sure that the Australian Chess Federation will announce its decision in advance of the election.
Nonetheless, at the 2006 election there were some delegates who made sure their votes weren't secret. According to one of the (horrified) returning officers, some delegates emerged from the voting booth with a mobile phone picture of the filled out ballot paper, as proof that the voted the way they were "supposed to"!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe you forgot the bribe which went to a PNG team member in 2006 to encourage him to support a particular candidate for Asian President.
Or maybe you were looking the wrong way when delegates left a particular office in the Torino Olympic Village clutching bundles of cash.