World races for IMF succession

Following the resignation of the IMF Chief Strauss-Kahn, the International Monetary Fund is seeking to appoint his successor “through an open, transparent and merit-based selection process.” BRIC will forward their candidates for this post as well.

­With this task to be completed by the end of June, the IMF board of directors, composed of representatives from 24 different countries as well as groups of countries, has been hit by a torrent of applications for the top post.

Among those mentioned for the now vacant IMF position is France’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Christine Lagarde.  Lagarde has already gained the support of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs the Euro Zone finance ministers, and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Other candidates contending for the post are the IMF’s Acting Managing Director, John Lipsky, India’s former finance minister Montek Singh Ahluwalia, former British prime minister Gordon Brown, former Turkish economy minister Kemal Dervis, and Singapore’s finance minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is the most likely candidate from Southeast Asia’s developing countries, and some others.

Asian, Middle Eastern and African diplomats in Washington said emerging nations were seeking a consensus candidate, with some support for former United Nations Developmental Head Kemal Dervis, but it was not clear they would be able to agree, Reuters reports.

The initiative of the BRIC countries to elect a non-European candidate as the IMF head is an unprecedented step forward, believes Policy Director Robert Naiman from the Just Foreign Policy group. 

This is an important step. We may not see it through, we may not see these countries really organizing a successful coalition to block the Western Europe and the United States in this round, but going forward, this could be a sign of things to come, not just in terms of who nominally leads these institutions … but in the actual policies,” said Naiman.

According to Naiman, French Minister Christine Lagarde, one of the top contenders for the post, will most likely continue to pursue the policies of her predecessor Dominique Strauss-Kahn, which could be called a “total banker bailout plan.

You are seeing the consequences of that in Greece, Latvia, Portugal and Ireland,” he said. “If Christine Lagarde becomes the next head of the IMF, I think in the short run one should expect more of the same as long as they can sustain that. It is not obvious:  Greece maybe at the edge of default and perhaps, even leaving the euro. So they may not be able to maintain these policies but the trend is for them to continue to try.