No longer directly electing the TS President?

Part of me still can’t believe it. But I’ve had this from various online contacts, so I guess it’s true: there is a proposal which will go to the general council which, if adopted, will change a number of things about the practical organisation of the Theosophical Society.

The main change will be that we as members of the Theosophical Society no longer get a vote in who becomes the next president of the Theosophical Society (TS).

This is an outrage to me.

I’m proud of the TS for being a religious organisation that elects its presidents. It’s one of the reasons why I am a reasonably active member: there is an attempt at an open organisation in which members can search for spiritual truth despite having religious differences. Now the organisation isn’t as open as I might like, but as long as the president is directly elected by the members, there is always a chance for change.

This proposal therefor goes to the heart of what makes me a proud theosophist. One of my responses yesterday as I got this news was: I don’t know if I want to remain a member of the TS if this goes through. Another response was: if P. Krishna had been a candidate, none of this would have happened.

I’ve set up a poll in which the main points of the proposal are laid out. Go check it out and give your vote on the various questions. One of the main questions I ask is: would you have voted for P. Krishna? Would you vote for him now?

Katinka Hesselink

Note 2015. The page where I had the poll no longer exists. Here are the results:

The latest (Okt 8th 2008)

It seems the proposal this post is a reaction to will probably not be discussed in the general council meeting this year. That is: in the meetings that takes place in winter 2008/2009.

Instead the issue has been postponed till the general council meeting of the Theosophical Society next year: the winter of 2009/2010.

So, till the proposal is off the table you can all keep letting the people on the general council know your opinion on this page.

6. Quorum: the General Council can decide on things when there are …. people

The current quorum is 5 out of 37 members. This means that the General Council can meet and decide on things when 5 people are present. This is obviously outdated.

So the new proposal states that any meeting of the general council can only go through if the members present plus proxies (people who have given their voting rights to someone else) is a majority.

Should the general council only meet when at leats half it’s members are present or have given proxy?

85.1% said : yes

14.9% said : no

total votes 67

9. The term of the presidency

The current term for president of the Theosophical Society is 7 years. The proposal is to have a term of 5 years.

How long should a TS president rule before a new election?

21.2% said 4 years

47% said 5 years

1.5% said 6 years

28.8% said 7 years

1.5% said 10 years

66 people voted. Note that according to the esoteric teachings 7 years is a full cycle. This would be a good reason to stick with 7 years. However the majority went for a shorter term: 5 years (47%) or even 4 years (21.2%). Still, a sizable minority want to keep things as they are 28.8% want to keep the term at 7 years.

9. Should there be a maximum of terms a TS president can serve?

How many terms should a TS president serve the TS in maximum?

I asked this question with the basis that the term would stay the same.

65.7% felt that 2 terms, or 14 years, was long enough.

10.4% said 3 terms (21 years)

1.5% said 4 terms (28 years)

22.4% said As long as they get reelected

67 people voted

10. The Election Committee should answer to…

The election committee is the committee that organizes the vote for the TS president, counts the votes etc. At present it answers to the executive committee.

Should the election committee answer to the president, the executive council or the general council?

75.4% said The election committee should answer to the general council

19.3% said The election committee should answer to the executive council

5.3% said The election committee should answer to the TS president.

57 people voted

E-mail as an official way of communication

Should the official business of the TS be conducted partly by e-mail?

96.8% said: Yes, of course. Can’t believe they don’t yet.

3.2% said: No, it’s too uncertain.

Total Votes: 62

10 e. The TS president will be voted on by…

This is the stickler point. [Fortunately it seems that this is off the table – May 2009]

The proposal suggest ‘Each General Secretary shall thereafter consult his Governing Body before casting his vote, but vote according to his own judgement.

Each member of the General Council shall vote for one of the candidates on the voting list and send his vote to the Secretary of the Election Committee by e-mail, air mail or other expeditious means.’

Which means the general secretaries would decide who the next president of the Theosophical Society should be.

So I asked:

Who should decide who the next president of the Theosophical Society should be?

87% said: The members: by direct vote (as current)

13% said: The general secretaries

Total Votes: 69

Should we be better informed about the candidates of the election?

The reason given in the proposal for the election change is that the general membership knows too little about the candidates to be able to make an informed decision. Instead of changing that, the proposal is to give the members less power.

What do you think?

Should there be more information about the candidates and their policy positions given to members?

90.6% said: Yes, please. Let’s see a real election with online information etc.

4.7% said: No, members know enough to make a decision.

4.7%said: No, members don’t need to be involved in deciding who the TS President should be.

Total Votes: 64

12 / 13 The executive committee

At present the general council has veto power over the question who the treasurer of the TS should be. The proposal is to also give them veto power over who the secretary should be.

What do you think?

Should the secretary of the executive council be approved by the general council ?

90% said: Yes, the secretary is too important an official to just be appointed by the president

10% said: No, let the president deal with that kind of stuff.

Total Votes: 60

If you could vote for the president of the Theosophical Society again, who would you vote for?

John Algeo drafted this proposal. In light of that fact, some of you might feel differently about who should be president of the Theosophical Society.

If you could vote again, who would you vote for?

57.4% said: John Algeo: he’s still the man for the job

42.6% said: Radha Burnier: she was right to run again

Total Votes: 61

How about P. Krishna?

Radha Burnier’s preferred candidate for the presidency was P. Krishna. He turned her down because of personal reasons and not knowing enough about theosophy. If you could vote for him, would you?

In a choice between John Algeo and P. Krishna, who would you vote for today?

32.7% said: P. Krishna

67.3% said: John Algeo

Total Votes: 52