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Barça is very much alive. The members, sole owners of the club, have spoken loud and clear. This is one piece of great news that has emerged from the elections of the President and Board of Directors that were held this Sunday, March 7th. Despite the pandemic, the 2021 elections will go down in history for having registered the second highest turnout in the eight elections for the Presidency of the club in its 121 years of existence, with a total of 56,300 voters (51% of the electoral roll, which was 110,290 members), that included postal voting (20,663 votes cast) and the mobilisation of members who for the first time were able to vote in person at six polling stations.
Once the poll ensured that Joan Laporta's candidacy was the clear winner of the election, the big question was whether the elections would go down in history as the highest turnout, but this wasn't achieved by the smallest of margins. The figures for 2021 are very close, just 1,477 votes in it, compared to the 2010 elections, which holds the turnout record with 57,088 voters, 48.11% of the electoral census, and which was much higher (118,665 members with the right to vote), and 2015, with 47,270 voters (43.12% of the census of 109,637 members). Although in terms of percentage with respect to the census, the 2003 elections recorded the highest turnout with 53.79% of a census of 94,339 members.
FC Barcelona’s pride in identity
On the day that marks exactly one year since the last match was played at the Camp Nou, members have returned to the stadium to give an example of a democratic lesson and turn an election day that should have been marked by the pandemic into a day of Catalan exaltation and pride in FC Barcelona's identity. Neither the pandemic, nor the rain that appeared in the early hours of the morning, nor the grey day that accompanied the vote, have eclipsed the response of the members, very aware that the club is in one of the most delicate moments of its history and the newly elected president needed maximum legitimacy.
The image of Leo Messi, accompanied by his eldest son Thiago, exercising his right to vote as another member, at the table that corresponded to his surname, has undoubtedly been a historical image that has traveled the world and has explained like no other the uniqueness of the club's ownership model. The captain and best player in the world has participated in the election day along with team-mates such as Busquets, Sergi Roberto, Jordi Alba and Riqui Puig, legends such as Puyol and Luis Enrique, and players of other professional sporting sections at Barça such as Àlex Abrines and Sergi Panadero. Many other former players or members who are also well-known personalities in Catalan civil society also took part, as well as former presidents such as Enric Reyna, Joan Gaspart, Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu.
The images of the Camp Nou turned into a large theme park with all kinds of fun activities so that members and their families could enjoy a great election party could not be repeated because of the pandemic, but the anti-Covid protocols to ensure the safety and protection of all members, didn't prevent the day from being a democratic, participatory success. Inside the venue, however, the members, always wearing masks, had to keep their distance, and go to the polls one by one at the Camp Nou polling stations, Palau Blaugrana, Girona, Lleida, Tarragona, Tortosa and Andorra.
This time, the restrictions have prevented the media from circulating freely inside the Camp Nou, and therefore the classic pictures of journalists and cameras behind the candidates or those capturing the moment of Catalans celebrating their vote has not been possible. Given the limitations imposed by the health measures, more than 260 accredited media and an entire audience have been able to follow an institutional audiovisual signal produced by Barça Studios at all times throughout the day, for more than 15 hours to cover the entirety of proceedings from the election day, both in Barcelona and in other venues.
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