Purely from a legal standpoint sections are independent from Adyar: Each section of the Theosophical Society Adyar has it’s own local legal format, and the only thing Adyar can do when sections don’t adapt their rules and regulations enough to the international ones is to oust the whole section from the TS. This has happened in the past in Canada for instance. But of course, sections do have to be quite extreme in their non-compliance before they’ll be ousted.
This also means that when a section decides to leave the TS Adyar, the International TS has no course in law to get the possessions of the local section. This too has happened in the past. Denmark comes to mind. The loss of libraries is of course most regretted by those who stay in the TS Adyar, despite their sections leaving the mothership.
Brazil Theosophical Society
According to someone who wishes to stay anonymous, the Brazil section has a very involved election process for it’s general secretary. The board is appointed by the general secretary.
The General Secretary is elected by the regional board. The regional board consists of representatives from the lodges. These representatives are elected by the lodge members, BUT the national board advises on who the candidates are or should be.
So this is not, by Dutch standards at least, a very democratic process, though I’m told it’s very normal for South American organizations. Compared to religious organizations this is not an out of the way state of affairs. The problem is, clearly, that anybody who opposes the existing state of things has no chance to get elected. So opposition has to either leave or hope that working through diplomatic channels might change things.
Officially though the lodges do elect their own representatives, so when the culture becomes more democratic, it’s likely the advice from above will be less heeded.
The European Sections and the USA
The European situation is such that most sections are Associations, and in most the members directly elect the board.
In some cases the lodges act as in betweens. Each member is also a member of a lodge and lodge representatives elect the board. This implies that all members who are not in a lodge, are de facto members of a lodge containing the unassociated members.
In the Dutch Section the members directly elect the national board. The lodges are associations in their own right, which have membership of the Dutch TS in their bylaws. The Dutch section is probably one of the ones who apply most to the Adyar regulations. As to the way the national boards are elected, I think most of the European sections are associations in which the members directly elect the board. Please let me know either way.
A reader confirms that the French section too is an association where the members directly elect both section president and board.
I’d welcome any more information on this issue.