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GP Week : Issue 68
Presidential showdown get THE last week of campaigning before the FIA Presidential election on October 23 has seen some of the most bitter ghting between the two candidates standing to replace Max Mosley, and has resulted in legal action being taken in advance of the all-important vote to ensure its fairness. This legal action was brought after Ari Vatanen requested a meeting with incumbent President Max Mosley to discuss the fairness of the ballot, after an FIA document sent to all voting clubs on October 9 outlining the voting procedure contained the line: "Your ballot papers will be issued to you in a personalised envelope." Vatanen reportedly put it to Mosley that such a system could not be classed as a secret ballot, and was apparently shown the door by the President. The Finn, fearful of an unfair election, thus launched proceedings with the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris on October 14, for the appointment of a Hussier de Justice to oversee the ballot and to ensure that it met the standards of a free and fair election under French law. Vatanen also wrote to Mosley on October 14, outlining that he believed that the election was not "taking place in accordance with the principle of neutrality." The FIA then sent a further letter on October 15 to the voting clubs outlining the exact voting procedure. This time, the document included the words: "Each envelope will contain the voting papers appropriate to the type of club concerned. It will not be possible to distinguish one envelope from another." The next day, the FIA released a statement, calling into question Vatanen's reasons for launching the proceedings and claiming that he had failed to understand the procedures for the ballot. "Had Mr Vatanen troubled to examine the procedures in place, he would understand that these in fact already provide more safeguards than those he is asking the Court to impose," the statement read. "The FIA is therefore at a loss to explain the purpose of this legal action, if not merely to generate further negative publicity and to attempt to raise doubts about the honesty of FIA staff." However, as the timeline of documentation clearly shows, these assurances had only been made, in complete conflict with the initially stated electoral procedure, the day after Vatanen approached the Tribunal de Grande Instance. As the accusations continued to fly over the weekend of the Brazilian Grand Prix over who was playing the dirtier election campaign, Jean Todt's election team was once again accused of using underhand tactics to secure votes, including "veiled threats" and the purchasing of votes. Vatanen believes that he has majority support going into the October 23 vote, but it is worthy of mention that so too did former FISA President Jean-Marie Balestre in his election battle against Max Mosley in 1991, an election that Mosley won. With Mosley firmly on Jean Todt's side in this election battle, and with the knowledge of history, it seems likely that the election result is anything but a certainty. 6