Monday, July 03, 2006

Vote Early, Vote Often

Leaving aside elections that might make a difference, such as those in Mexico for example, let’s take a look at some that won’t. The elections for a new president for Real Madrid are threatening to make the election that brought George Bush to power seem like a model of democratic conduct, and look just as likely to be settled by the courts. As things stand at the moment, the winner is Ramón Calderón, but his victory is already being challenged. The main cause of the dispute was a decision by the courts last week to exclude postal votes from the elections – the case for exclusion was made by Calderón on the grounds that the club machinery was being used to favour the joint candidacy of Juan Miguel Villar-Mir and rally driver Carlos Sainz, widely regarded as the candidates closest to former president Florentino Perez. Now that Calderón has won on the basis of those members who turned up to vote in person, Villar-Mir is threatening to challenge the result to try and get postal votes included.

There were 5 candidates for the presidency, but realistically only 3 of these can have any chance of winning if additional postal votes are counted. During my time in Spain, it has been obligatory to have made a fortune from construction to be the president of the club – this trend could now be broken but all candidates (apart from Sainz) are wealthy businessmen or lawyers. Following the precedent set by Perez and his capture of Figo, there have been plenty of extravagant promises floated about players and coaches who will be coming to Madrid. Calderon’s team has promised Capello as the coach, and wants to bring in Cesc Fabregas, Kaka, and Robben – whether any of these will actually come is not at all clear. With the World Cup coming to an end, now should be the time for paying ridiculously high prices to attract the big names; but if the election result is in doubt this process cannot even begin. None of which looks very comforting for a club which may be the most successful in the world commercially, but which has failed to win a single trophy in the last 3 years. It’s ironic that there seem to be more ex-galacticos than current ones still competing in the World Cup.

This piece was not about football at all, that much should be clear.

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