Saturday – a General Assembly of the outmost importance

fila_eleicao 04 - pics by Nilton Della Croce_croppedWithin 36 hours, members of the Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras will start lining up to cast their votes in the club’s General Assembly. An unusually large number of proposals, a total of ten, will be put to the vote. All proposals are statuary changes relating to the Direct Vote for President as approved by the club’s Deliberative Council at the end of last year. In order for the General Assembly to be valid, at least 10% of members with voting rights need to show up on Saturday, which translates to some 1.000 individuals. The voting procedure is done through the use of electronic voting stations, just like in Brazil’s national elections, and takes place in the Palmeiras Club House on Rua Turiaçu no. 1840.

Eight out of ten proposals can be ratified by a simple majority of ticks in the “I agree” box. These proposals include the approval of the Direct Vote (to be implemented as of the November 2014 election), the necessity for presidential candidates to form an election platform that includes their vice-presidents, the obligation of presidential candidates to present a Plan of Governance and the obligation of sitting directors to provide for a smooth transition between mandates.

There are however two items that divided the Deliberative Council last year, and where the General Assembly is faced with multiple choices. These proposals need a 2/3 majority in order to go through. They are: a) does any given presidential candidate need four or eight years as member of the Deliberative Council to be eligible? and b) must any given presidential candidate have the approval of 15% or 20% of members of the Deliberative Council – the so called “filter” – in order to validate his candidacy?

The first question not so much, but the second – relating to the filter – holds all the potential of havoc. Most members reject completely the idea of the filter, but there is no consensus on what would happen – legally speaking – if none of the two proposed filters but instead the “I do not agree” option receives 2/3 of the votes. Many are interpreting the “I do not agree” option as a vote for a zero filter, but that would be incorrect: theoretically an “I do not agree” vote could as easily mean “I want a 50% filter” or whatever. It’s probably safest to assume that if none of the filter options receive 2/3 of the votes or even if the proposal is rejected by a 2/3 majority, the matter will be returned to the Deliberative Council for further handling. Which in turn could jeopardize the whole implementation of the Direct Vote.

The president of the Deliberative Council, Mr Vergamini, has been formally requested to clarify the issue, but has so far failed to provide an answer. Judging by previous experiences, I’d say no answer is to be expected in time to illuminated voters. We’re in the dark here.

My reading is that it would be best to minimize damage and agree to the lower filter for now: there will be plenty of time to address and correct this issue at future General Assemblies. For now, the implementation of the Direct Vote, although not as direct as one could have wished for, nevertheless continues to be a tremendous step in the right direction of bringing democracy and transparency to Palmeiras. If you are a frequent visitor of Anything Palmeiras, you will certainly remember how much struggle it took to push through the reform in the Deliberative Council (refresh your memory here, here and here). We’re talking years.

The Direct Vote is a tremendous blow to the current way of doing politics at Palmeiras, where a president in order to be elected needs to sell his soul to a majority of roughly 300 consiglieri – of which half are appointed for life and God knows how many doesn’t give a rat’s ass about football or any sport for that matter – with voting power to chose president. Under the New Order, the president will instead be elected by the members of S.E. Palmeiras and be held accountable to them. A substantial shift in the balance of power, from the Deliberative Council to the Members. It’s not worth risking that by pursuing the zero filter in uncertain judicial terrain.

In the unlikely case of any late clarifications being made public by Mr Vergamini, you will hear about it on this space.

Palmeirenses members of Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras, do your duty and go vote on Saturday! Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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