FIDE Presidential Elections 2010 (Voting)
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov re-elected as FIDE President
Mark Crowther - Wednesday 29th September 2010
FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumznhinov was re-elected as FIDE President on the first day of the 81st FIDE Congress by a margin of 95 votes to 55 votes. He was challenged by former World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov who was supported by former champion Garry Kasparov. The voting on the final day was delayed by 4 hours when Garry Kasparov complained about the voting procedures. Later on Kasparov appeared to concede they had no chance of winning. As an organisation FIDE and its delegates seems quite separated from most of the rest of the chess world where Ilyumzhinov is regarded, at best, as a joke. The Karpov campaign site says he will fight on to "continue this battle to restore and transform the chess world."
An angry Kasparov tries to get proceedings adjourned. Photo © | http://www.europe-echecs.com
The Delegates. Photo © 2010 Albran.
The result of all the campaigning the Kasparov and Karpov did over the last few months is that they gained one vote over the 96-54 loss of Bessel Kok in the FIDE elections in Torino, Italy in 2006. There seems a block vote within FIDE that is practically impossible to dislodge. It is quite plausible to see Ilyumzhinov stay in power another 15 years and beyond. I don't believe this represents the view of chess players throughout the World. If this is the case then players need to start being active in their own national associations and replacing the FIDE delegates that voted for Ilyumzhinov. In this regard Karpov's campaign probably started two years too late.
This voting block has meant that essentially there hasn't been a change in power within FIDE since 1982, with Ilyumzhinov taking over from Florencio Campomanes (and his still Vice-President Giorgos Makropoulos) who sent the organisation bankrupt in 1995.
The winner Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Photo © 2010 Albran.
Let me make clear why I was so opposed to his re-election. Any investigation of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's background shows that he was prepared to do business with anyone, including both Saddam and his even more vile son Uday Hussein. There are just too many stories of the dubious origin of his money. His record as ruler in Kalmykia was just dreadful. He was in power for 15 years in which time the population fell significantly and the economic indicators put it right at the very bottom of all the Republics in Russia. At the same time the opposition local press was harrassed by Ilyumzhinov officials and one reporter was murdered. In this regard support from people in the Russian Government through Arkady Dvorkovich is absolutely incredible. I believe his leadership of FIDE has followed the same pattern of low achievement being trumpeted as a triumph. One thing is clear, Ilyumzhinov is a formidable political operator, and no-one in his class has challenged him for the Presidency.
Right from the start today it was clear that Karpov was going to lose. A picture of Kasparov complaining (source the Europe-Echecs report on the Congress and Round 8. Photo used with permission) said all that needed to be said. Also see ChessVibes story on the Election.
Richard Conn Jr., Karpov and a stone-faced Kasparov in the foreground. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and Nigel Freeman on the stage in the background. Photo © 2010 Europe-Echecs.
Kasparov's complaints surrounded the use of proxy votes.
http://www.sovsport.ru/news/text-item/410694 reported FIDE Vice-President Giorgos Makropoulos saying.
I'm tired of repeatedly having to prove that the elections are fair. - accusations repeatedly made by the Karpov Team - this is nonsense, and their accusations are baseless. Everything is open, the eyes of the delegates, in the presence of Russian and foreign press. For six months Kasparov and Karpov have conducted a dirty game, trying to tarnish Ilyumzhinov. They understand that the position and program of Kirsan is stronger, that they will never win this election. That's why they are trying to blow up a scandal out of nothing.
I'm quite tired of a man who should have been disbarred from holding office after being intimately involved in the bankrupcy of FIDE still being there 15 years later but there you go.
There were compaints about the Congress Building. Photo © 2010 Albran.
The margin of victory probably means that the proxy votes didn't make a difference. although it may have done because there were 56 of them, but probably not all would have broken for Karpov in any event. But the protestations from the Ilyumzhinov campaign that they fought fair and Karpov brought a disgrace to the campaign are simply not true. Ilyumzhinov fought at least as viciously as the Karpov campaign but he did it more behind the scenes and apparently more effectively too. Being the incumbent seems to be such a huge advantage with the knowledge of what it takes to get a vote from someone and with more to offer.
The vote was supposed to take place as 12:00pm but eventually got under way at 4pm local time.
According to Soviet Sport - There was uproar at the start of the vote.
"The meeting began with a roll call. According to the rules here should be attended by representatives of all countries, under the wing of the FIDE. Some delegates could not arrive at Khanty-Mansiysk, but sent an official letter of attorney, which gave his voice for that particular candidate. At the time of roll call, with strong statements made by the 13-time world champion Garry Kasparov (representing the team Karpov), there was shouting about the illegality of the vote and a demand for the adjournment of the meeting.
The abuse of proxy votes of delegates not present has long been a source of complaint and Karpov in his final speach made reference to this being an outdated practice, open to corruption, and no longer allowed by for instance the IOC. Former President Florencio Campomanes was notorious in his abuse of these votes and indeed was caught using votes he was not entitled to.
In TWIC59 I reported on the overthrow of Campomanes. There was a report about his behaviour in the 1994 Moscow FIDE elections.
Also Kurt Jungwirth presented a "devastating" (according to one observer) report about election irregularities during the 1994 Moscow Olympiad. In one particularly glaring case Campomanes used the Philippine vote himself voted and the Brunei proxy (which was given to the Philippine delegate not Campomanes) he was not entitled to do either of these things. This, of course was enough for him to get through the crucial vote allowing him to stand.
However the abuse of these proxies has continued over the years and in some ways has practically guaranteed Kirsan Ilyumznhinov's re-election. For many years Campomanes remained on FIDE's payroll. His knowledge of the election process and contacts was probably the main reason.
Kasparov intervenes at the start of roll-call. Photo © 2010 Europe-Echecs.
Just prior to the results being announced the Ilyumzhinov team claimed 102 supporters and in one Russian article Kasparov just about conceded defeat.
"We have many things in life apart from FIDE. But Ilyumzhinov has something to lose. Moreover, apart from the presidency he has nothing left. Delegates are intimidated almost all dance to the tune of Ilyumzhinov. We're trying everything possible, but apparently it's useless.
http://www.ukrinform.ua/rus/order/?id=974338 talked more about the unsatisfactory election process.
Where the long time opposition to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and the current leadership goes from here is anyone's guess. What I don't want to see is any of this "Gens Una Sumas" nonsense. Anatoly Karpov should not accept any position within FIDE, things haven't changed now, Ilyumzhinov is as unacceptable as he always was. It does say a lot about FIDE itself. If an organisation is prepared to elect by such a margin a man of dubious character and associates as Ilyumznhinov then there is something very broken within it. Either the delegates know but don't care about Ilyumzhinov's background and sources of money, or they don't care to know about his background. I don't know which is worse. I just find it incomprehensible 95 countries find it possible to vote for him.
Anatoly Karpov vows to fight on in some way. Photo © 2010 Albran.
It seems that the fight will continue if a post-election message from the Karpov Campaign site is to be believed.
In an election that confirmed the worst of our fears about the integrity of the process, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was reelected in Khanty-Mansiysk by the count of 95-55. Considering the rampant abuses that took place there, especially with the abhorrently corrupt proxy system, it is difficult, if not impossible, to consider this a legitimate election.
No matter how Anatoly Karpov decides to continue this battle to restore and transform the chess world, he wishes to express his thanks to everyone who joined us in this effort. We promoted chess worldwide to an unprecedented degree during this campaign. We proved beyond any doubt that a vast majority of the world’s chessplayers support our agenda and our vision for the future of chess as a 21st century sport and of FIDE as a modern organization. This election also showed how it has become impossible to effect this change from within FIDE, which has long ceased to represent the federations or the chess players.
A full statement from Anatoly Karpov and the campaign will soon follow.
http://www.chess.at/meldungen/fide-wahlen.html is the Austrian photo report.
As a minor post-election challenge. There must be those of you out there with copies of Soviet era chess magazines. Can anyone find out who the senior champion of Kalymkia was in 1976? (Has to be a contemporary checkable source for this, not an Ilyumzhinov interview) Or slightly harder, find any soviet era list that rates Ilyumzhinov as a Candidate Master? (I think their ratings, from memory, were things like 1a, 1b, 2a etc, almost certainly harder because it is hard to prove what I believe to be a negative)
Garry Kasparov. Will he run next time? Photo © 2010 Albran.
I myself, occasionally permitted myself some optimism things might change, but was generally sceptical of the chances for success of the Karpov campaign (and within reason the opposition could have been anyone). It seems I was more or less right that Karpov's campaign was dead in the water from almost the start. I wonder if anyone will be prepared to challenge in four years in what increasingly looks like a fool's errand.
Now we will have to see what happens. This is especially true of the deal with Chess Lane a completely mysterious organisation based in the British Virgin Islands. I am not at all optimistic.
There were other elections and Silvio Danailov won the European Chess Union presidential elections.
After the last election I virtually stopped reporting FIDE affairs for a long time. Too depressing. So it is probably time to return to reporting on what I do enjoy. Players playing actual chess.
Alexei Orlov, new President of Kalmykia and apparently friend of Ilyumzhinov. Photo © 2010 Albran.
Lenta.ru is a Moscow-based news website in Russian language, owned by Rambler Media Group which belongs to Prof-Media. It is considered one of the most popular Russian language online resources with over 100 thousand visitors daily.
You can google translate this summary page: http://www.lenta.ru/lib/14161210/full.htm for an extensive review of Ilyumzhinov's career