Yesterday night Palmeiras’ Deliberative Council unanimously voted in favour of the proposal to adopt the Direct Vote for president. Unanimously.
Anyone believing it was an easy victory is utterly mistaken. It was the labour of many men and women, the pressure, the commitment to changing Palmeiras that paved the way and built up a momentum so strong that not even the fiercest opponent of the Direct Vote dared go against the tide.
It could have gone wrong. A large number of conseglieri could have stayed absent, not allowing for any voting to take place (in the end we had 191 counsellors present: the minimum needed was 143). The Council could have opted for a secret ballot, turning the result unpredictable. A spark could have turned the 700 strong and peaceful manifestation outside the building into something different, giving former president Mustafá and his allies an excuse for requesting the postponing of the reunion. The proposal could have been rejected fair and square.
None of this happened. The Direct Vote is now a reality at S.E. Palmeiras, needing only a formal approval by simple majority at the upcoming General Assembly (piece of cake).
The victory is both gigantic and partial. Gigantic because it propels Palmeiras into the 21st century. Partial, because the war is by no means over. In fact, not even the first battle is: no voting took place on the seven amendments to the original Direct Vote project – amendments that will define the length of the presidential mandate; when the first elections under the new rules should take place (2013? 2014? 2015?); what prerequisites a candidate must fulfil; and so on.
The amendments come in all colours and are full of traps. It’s clear that part of the reason why the Direct Vote passed unanimously is that the dark side believes it can do substantial damage to the project through the amendments.
After a very heated debate, at around 11pm at was agreed that the session should continue in three weeks’ time, thus giving the counsellors more time to study the different amendments before casting their votes on the 22 October. From our side, increased attention and preparation ahead of and during the session is crucial.
Stand proud, palmeirense. Yesterday, power shifted from the hands of a few hundred counsellors into the hands of approximately eight thousand club members. Behold the dawning of a new era for Palmeiras.