In fewer than 24 hours (Taipei time) there will either be a new FEI President in place, or a second term FEI President who will be watched by those who didn’t vote for her like a hawk watches a mouse hole. I must confess a creeping sense of ‘who cares’ after watching what was very generously called a presidential debate at the end of today’s meetings. It would seem all the good dirt went down in the closed meetings with the national federations earlier in the week. Canada’s fearless leader posted a blog on his website that will make anything I can share about the proceedings seem as bland as boiled, unsalted rice noodles. It would seem that in addition to a coat check, the Grand Hyatt Taipei also has a ‘check your sense of humour at the door’ service. A few of the talking heads made efforts at levity, but their jokes flew like lead balloons. 

What struck me most about the candidates’ presentations and subsequent answering of questions was not their differences, but their similarities. Even Sven Holmberg, who has been quite vocal about his feelings of oppression at the hand of HRH during his four years as her Veep #1, said he agreed with both her and Henk Rottinghuis when he went last of the three in answering a question. Some debate.  Actually, the warmest anyone’s blood got was thanks to Canada. Akaash got up and asked what has become a bit of a pet question for him. I’m paraphrasing but the essence of the question is: how can someone say he’s an agent of change when presumably – as the first Veep under HRH – he has been part of the problem he is claiming he will solve? Where Akaash seems to have stepped in it is that he used the plural of VP, which drags second Veep Chris Hodson into the fray. Hodson has written a scorching letter of intent which says he is willing to stand as the 2nd Veep candidate for both of the men, and absolutely not for HRH. Technically as a Veep candidate he’s not ‘running’, but he got his back up all the same. Clutching the microphone like a bludgeon, he told the room “this is the second time in two days this young man has misrepresented the facts….I have at no time directly campaigned against anyone.” I hope Hodson remembered to pack his blood pressure medication, but (for Akaash’s sake) that he left his wahaika behind.

So in the absence of anything truly exciting to grab onto thus far, my mind strayed to thoughts of which Muppets the candidates most resembled. Sven and Henk were easy, but I hit a wall with HRH. She is decidedly too quiet and polished to be compared to  Miss Piggy, and in trolling my memory for other female Muppets I had a startling epiphany. Jim Henson was sexist. Can anyone out there name even one female puppet from Sesame Street? I believe Miss Piggy was the only female character on the Muppet Show – and a pretty unsavoury example of the gender I call mine at that. Forgive me for cheating, but I delved into comic book culture to come up with a character who embodies at least some of the same qualities as HRH.


Sven Holmberg: “There is no try. There is only do.” He’s the candidate of fewest words, and if he wins he may prove to be the one of most action. Charisma rating: low. Honesty rating: would be higher if he hadn’t claimed that there are several FEI members who are IOC members so not to worry about losing HRH as a member of the IOC if she’s not re-elected. A South American delegate got frisky and challenged Sven to name these so-called IOC members. Sven dredged up one name, which the South American shot down by pointing out that individual is a member of his country’s NOC, not a member of the IOC. 



 What Henk shares with Big Bird beyond the obvious physical similarities is a sense of guileless honesty. Kind of dorky but you could trust him not to eat you if you were stuck with him on a life raft at sea. Henk could also be called the hand-shaking candidate. I met him only a couple of times but he shook my hand at least four times. Charisma rating: high. Intelligence rating: probably underestimating him by ranking him only high and not stratospheric. Originality rating: that depends if he said ‘grass roots’ first or Sven did.



 HRH: a quiet demeanour hides an absolute tiger if the accusations of Chris H (and to a milder degree, Sven) are to be believed. Most puzzling aspect: if she has failed so dismally in the area of Development during her term as Prez, then why does everyone believe she will gain voting support from the majority of countries outside of Europe, ie. the ‘developing’ nations? Charisma rating: haya. Fashion sense rating: if she loses the leopard print she wore this morning, medium.