CNN is reporting that French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is officially in the running to take over disgraced French politician Dominique Strauss-Khan’s position as head of the IMF:
“Lagarde emphasized her background as a lawyer, a business leader, and as a wife and mother, an implicit reference to the sex scandal that drove Strauss-Kahn to resign.”
European leaders have been rallying for the past week to throw their support behind Lagarde–her list of supporters includes Britain, Italy and the Netherlands, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. They argue that the IMF needs someone who understands the crises facing the European economy. But her announcement has not been universally applauded.
Developing countries have long maintained that a European should not hold the top job at the organization.
In a moment of surprising solidarity, the BRICS countries–Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa– recently issued a statement attacking “the obsolete unwritten convention that requires that the head of the IMF be necessarily from Europe,” according to the Globe and Mail.
They argue that European politicians have repeatedly promised to let the rest of the world have a crack at IMF leadership, but so far its all been hot air:
“In their letter, the IMF directors from countries commonly referred to as the BRICS nations pointed out that at the time of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s selection to lead the fund in 2007, at least some European politicians promised to thereafter relinquish their hold on the job.
At the time, Jean-Claude Junker, the head of the euro group, said that “the next managing director will certainly not be a European” and that “in the euro group and among EU finance ministers, everyone is aware that Strauss-Kahn will probably be the last European to become director of the IMF in the foreseeable future,” the BRICS executive directors say in the statement, without giving a source for the reference,” writes Kevin Carmichael.
So far the only other challenger is Mexico’s Agustin Carstens, but with European members controlling a third of the vote, and voting as a bloc, he is definitely an underdog.
What do you think? Is it time Europe backs off? Does choosing a leader based on nationality undermine the IMF’s legitimacy?
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