On June 5, 2016 the International Confederation of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul will elect a new General President for a six-year term. The two candidates for the position are Renato Lima de Oliveira and Maria Geralda (Ada) Ferreira.
Included in their December 2015 Newsletter, the following is a introduction to the electoral process to help us understand what is happening at this important time in the Society’s history:
When does it start? The electoral period opened officially in June 2015, at the Annual Meeting in São Paulo. It will conclude with the vote and the announcement of the results on 5 June 2016.
Who can vote? One representative of each Superior, Assimilated or Associated Council. These are normally National Presidents, who exercise their voting right in their own name and on behalf of the members whom they represent (Statutes: 3.3). One country = one ballot paper.
Whom do they vote for? The candidates are proposed by the member countries of the SSVP, individually or in groups. Nominations closed on 30 September 2015, when all names had to be submitted to the CGI. The proposed candidates were then asked if they accepted their nomination. At the beginning of December, Council General received the CVs and electoral statements of each candidate, Renato Lima de Oliveira and Maria Geralda (Ada) Ferreira.
How do they vote? On an individual ballot paper, placed in a ballot box on the day of the election, or else if no representative can attend the Assembly, the vote is cast by post for the first round. All the electoral documentation (candidates’ statements and CVs, ballot papers) will be sent by e-mail and by post to the National Councils between February and March 2016.
Who does what? The electoral process is supervised by a Commission formed especially for the occasion. Its members are: Brian O’Reilly: Vice-President General; Julien Spiewak: Secretary General; Liam Fitzpatrick: Treasurer General; David Williams: Rule and Statutes Commission.
What is the role of the International President? The International President maintains an important decision-making role: they supervise, develop and coordinate the activities of the Society around the globe, taking into account the resolutions passed at the General Assemblies. They also appoint the members of the International Board as well as appointing other positions for example Vice-Presidents (by territory, or for committees etc). The International President also represents the Society at an International level and in dealings with other bodies such as the Vincentian Family, Clergy, the Vatican and the UN alongside other organisations working in the field of charity.
The General Assembly – The International General President is elected during an Ordinary General Assembly that takes place every 6 years. During this meeting, all member country representatives are invited to attend, and their participation is crucial as it is during this event where the important changes regarding the Society are decided: the main strategies, modifications to the Rule or statutes, the approval of the annual accounts. Away from this meeting, a small assembly called the “International Executive Committee,” which is held once per year, has the role to monitor the implementation of decisions taken at the Ordinary General Assembly.
Brian O’Reilly, Vice-President General of the International Confederation of the Society of Saint-Vincent de Paul writes: “I would humbly suggest that you pray and invoke the working of the Holy Spirit at all such meetings to help guide your discussions. Further details and documentation with regard to the Election Procedure and the Election…will be sent to you within the next 6 weeks. May the Holy Spirit guide you in all your deliberations over the coming weeks.”
To read more, including information about the current president, Dr. Michael Thio, visit the Society of St. Vincent de Paul website.