The president of the FIA's Ethics Committee has written an open letter to all members warning against a potential "severe infringement" of regulations ahead of this year's elections to find a replacement for Jean Todt.
After 12 years in office, Todt will step down as president of motor racing's governing body on December 17, and will be replaced by either Graham Stoker or Mohammed Ben Sulayem.
In the build-up to the election, however, it has emerged certain practices have come to light, with members allegedly providing photographic evidence of their ballot paper, which has resulted in François Bellanger issuing a strongly-worded letter to the various presidents, members and the FIA community.
Bellanger has expressed "certain concerns", making clear that "regular, free and fair elections are essential to achieving the highest standards of governance, integrity and democracy set forth by our Statutes.
"In this respect, our duty is to ensure that anyone involved in the electoral campaign and the voting procedure complies with the standards of conduct set out by the FIA Code of Ethics."
Bellanger, in particular, highlights "political neutrality" that "requires that all FIA members have the right and are able to freely express their preferences and designate their representatives with no interference from any third party, such as local or foreign governments and officials, or national and supranational public agencies".
Bellanger adds: "In this respect, the Ethics Committee has recently been asked if lobbying and endorsement practices might result in an infringement of the principles mentioned above.
"Lobbying and endorsement are legitimate practices, but potentially controversial.
"Exercising political pressure or any other form of pressure on an FIA Member in order to influence their vote at the presidential elections would constitute
an infringement of FIA fundamental principles.
"It would be a more severe infringement if such pressure included a request that a FIA Member give photographic evidence of the ballots he or she has cast.
"It has been reported that this might be happening at the FIA, which would be a matter of serious concern for the whole FIA community."
Bellanger has been forced to remind the candidates, voting members and all FIA stakeholders they should comply with the highest standards of conduct and refrain from any misconduct.
Insisting the FIA Clubs "should not be put under undue influence" on whom to vote, the governing body recognises third parties will have a preferred candidate, with endorsements naturally acceptable.
There are, however, certain areas of "undue influence" that will not be tolerated, and these include: threatening voters who do not support a certain candidate; offering rewards to voters who support a certain candidate; asking voters to photograph their completed ballot when casting it.
Bellanger has asked for such practices to immediately be reported, with candidates and their supporters urged to abstain from encouraging any such activities.
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