In 26 days, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile will elect its next president. The international governing body for motorsport will convene in Paris for its annual General Assembly meeting on December 17th, where the election will take place. And yesterday, I broke how to get on the election ballot. No time seems better than now for a refresher on the body’s elections, especially as there hasn’t been a competitive election for FIA President in 12 years.
In 2009, the current president Jean Todt won his first four-year term after defeating 1981 World Rally Champion Ari Vatanen 135 votes to 49 votes. Todt was re-elected unopposed to a second term in 2013 after his opponent David Ward withdrew less than a month away from the election. Todt was re-elected unopposed again for a third term in 2017. Jean Todt cannot run for a fourth term as FIA Statutes limit those elected to the presidency to three terms.
Who are the voters? As the organization’s full name implies, the FIA is a federation of automobile associations worldwide. The FIA states that there are currently 203 member clubs with voting rights. As the FIA General Assembly, these member clubs in congress elect a candidate to the position.
This election will operate based on a principle of “1 country, 24 votes.” This system reflects the dual nature of the FIA as international motorsport’s governing body and an international advocacy group for the automobile industry and drivers in general. Each club designated as a country’s National Sporting Authority (ASN) receives 12 votes within each country.
Mobility clubs receive the other 12 votes. Mobility clubs cover a variety of responsibilities, from providing roadside assistance services and offering tourism services to providing international driving permits and engaging in political advocacy.
Things get a bit more complex when it’s taken into account that more than two clubs can represent a country. I’ll use Germany as an example of the distribution of votes in cases like this. Three clubs represent Germany at the FIA: Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club (ADAC), Automobilclub von Deutschland (AvD) and Deutscher Motor Sport Bund (DMSB). Being mobility clubs, ADAC and AvD each receive six votes, splitting the country’s 12 mobility votes. The DMSB receives all 12 sporting votes as Germany’s ASN. Sporting votes are never divided as the FIA delegates sporting power top-down and only designates a single ASN in each country.
In some cases, a single club fulfills both sporting and mobility roles. The FIA refers to these clubs as National Automobile Clubs (ACN). National Automobile Clubs receive 24 votes when acting as a country’s sole representative.
Uniquely, The FIA grants a single vote to racing drivers as a collective. The President of the FIA Drivers’ Commission casts this vote. Tom Kristensen currently holds the position.
How does a candidate win the election? This explanation will be much more brief compared to explaining the electoral system. The candidate who wins an absolute majority of votes will be elected the FIA President on December 17th.