FIDE election campaign gathers momentum

by Macauley Peterson
9/26/2018 – One week from today, FIDE delegates will meet for their General Assembly and elect a new President. (Vote in our reader poll!) With the era of Ilyumzhinov now over, the race has become quite competitive. It remains a three-way contest between Georgios Makropoulos, Nigel Short and Arkady Dvorkovich. The election campaign is in full swing (with gloves off) and we'll be bringing you up to date on the major events of the past weeks as well as late-breaking news, in a series of articles leading up to the big day on October 3rd. Who would you vote for?

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The state of play

The election campaign for the upcoming presidential election is heading down the wire. For the first time in many years, there are not two, but three candidates: Georgios Makropoulos, Nigel Short and Arkady Dvorkovich (in the order they announced).

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Makropoulos and Dvorkovich are the presumed front-runners and ironically both have a similar problem: How to distance themselves from the sordid legacy of longtime incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.

Among the various charges levelled against Ilyumzhinov over the years has been that he used his official position and ability to travel (at FIDE's expense) to serve as a discreet envoy for the business interests of others in Russia, and also that the Russian Chess Federation gained outsized influence in the organization via his presidency.

Makropoulos was Deputy Vice-President for Ilyumzhinov for many years and was the de facto head of FIDE in recent years. After falling out with his former political partner, he now represents a break from the "Russian dominance" and yet he naturally remains tainted by many other aspects of Ilyumzhinov's legacy.

Dvorkovich meanwhile was Deputy Prime Minister of Russia from May 2012 to May 2018, was a member of the Supervisory Board of the Russian Chess Federation, and has Ilyumzhinov loyalists working on his campaign. While he is able to credibly criticize the record of FIDE under Ilyumzhinov and Makropoulos, he is hard-pressed to allay global concerns about Russian influence — in fact, on the contrary, he argues that his business and government connections are a clear asset.

That leaves Grandmaster Nigel Short, a longtime critic of FIDE leadership who supported the opposition candidates in the recent past FIDE elections: Kasparov and Karpov. Short's appeal derives from his focus on good governance and his passion for the sport as a professional player. But in recent weeks of the campaign he is seen as more overtly aligning with Dvorkovich.

Due to the structure of the General Assembly, each member federation is equally important when it comes to voting under the FIDE statutes (Chapter 4); so Djibouti (number 164 of the FIDE list of countries) with three rated players has the same voice in the GA as the delegates of the USA, Russia, India, Germany or any large active federation. 

Alternatives have been proposed (one vote per rated game anyone?) but this system is well-entrenched and reform is unlikely. Perhaps the best outcome we can hope for — regardless of the election winner — is the implementation of term limits. Since all candidates are on record in support of a maximum tenure for the FIDE President (eight years seems to be a shared consensus) it is incumbent upon all civic-minded among the chess community to hold whoever comes out on top to that pledge. This is the surest way to avoid an Ilyumzhinov-like dynasty of 23-odd years from repeating itself ever again.

As before, this election has seen multiple allegations of corruption, which no chess news sources are properly resourced or mandated to investigate fully. Unless the ICIJ or Robert Mueller are going to get involved in the next seven days, the narrative is destined to be driven largely by glib tweets and whispered rumours.

Having said that, over the next several days, we'll take a look at the current state of the game. But first a quick review of the players:

Georgios Makropoulos (Greece)

Official campaign website:
Twitter: @makro_chess


Deputy President: Malcolm Pein (England) 
Secretary-General: Sundar Damal Villivalam (India) 
Vice Presidents: Martha Fierro (Ecuador), Chitalu Chilufya (Zambia) 
Treasurer: Adrian M. Siegel (Switzerland)

Fide forward photo

The campaign slogan of FIDE Forward: "Dignity before money"

"What is at stake today is the political and financial independence of FIDE from any foreign government. Arkady Dvorkovich is the continuation of the old practice 'Money for Control' and, unfortunately, FIDE today is in danger of becoming the tool of a certain government for achieving its geopolitical aims which have nothing to do with chess...We will remain honest until the end and we will fight for, and secure, the financial and political independence of FIDE so that each and every delegate will be proud to be a member of our organization. This is our dream and you cannot buy dreams, you should work for them!"

Nigel Short (England)

Official campaign website:
Twitter: @nigelshortchess


Deputy President: Lukasz Turlej (Poland) 
Secretary-General: Ruth Haring (USA) 
Vice-Presidents: Olalekan Adeyemi (Nigeria), Paul Spiller (New Zealand) 
Treasurer: Panu Laine (Finland)

The campaign slogan of Nigel Short: "Clean Hands for FIDE"

"As president of FIDE, I will make it my duty to address the following:

  1. Restore the integrity of FIDE
  2. Raise commercial sponsorship from its pitifully low level while simultaneously cutting taxes, thus transforming FIDE from an organisation in which federations support the central body, to one in which the central body supports the federations.
  3. Introduce term-limits.
  4. Abolish proxies.
  5. Make key bodies, like the Electoral and Ethics Commissions, entirely independent.
  6. Require a bare minimum of governance from federations (statutes, accounts & elections) to ensure that unrepresentative bodies, with little or no chess activity, never again sway elections.
  7. Actively support poorer federations that do meet those requirements.
  8. End the rampant corrupt practice whereby jobs, titles and tournaments are awarded for political fealty.
  9. Introduce a register of Presidential Board members financial interests.
  10. Terminate the failed Agon agreement."

Arkady Dvorkovich (Russia)

Official campaign website:
Twitter: @adorkovich


Deputy President: Bachar Kouatly (France) 
Secretary-General: Enyonam Sewa Fumey (Togo) 
Vice Presidents: Mahir Mammadov (Azerbaijan), Julio Granda (Peru) 
Treasurer: Zhu Chen (Qatar)

Dvorkovich home page

The campaign slogan of Arkady Dvorkovich: "Energy, Knowledge, Experience"

"I am running for FIDE President with a clear objective - to take FIDE up to the highest standards of professionalism, efficiency and transparency. FIDE should become a globally visible and respected organization promoting chess all around the world and contributing to the sustainable development of our societies. 

Being deeply connected to chess since the early childhood, I had a chance to help to promote our game on many occasions, while my recent experience as the Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee for FIFA World Cup-2018 in Russia has helped me a lot to see a broader picture. I am ready and willing to use my skills and knowledge to transform FIDE, and to take chess to the heights it deserves."

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To be continued...


Macauley served as the Editor in Chief of ChessBase News from July 2017 to March 2020. He is the producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast, and was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.


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