Why the New IMF Head Can’t Be European

18 May 2011, 
published in 
Spiegel Online

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is in jail, and the debate over his successor as IMF head has already begun. German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to see another European get the job. But that would be a fatal signal to emerging powers such as China and India.

It seemed as if they had the best of intentions. On April 2, 2009, Europeans and Americans indicated their intention to cease dividing up the leadership posts of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund among themselves. The agreement was reached at that year’s G‑20 summit in London. We agree that the heads and senior leadership of the international financial institutions should be appointed through an open, transparent and merit-based selection process,” read the leaders’ statement at the conclusion of the summit. In other words, the Europeans gave up their privilege of choosing the head of the IMF.

But now, with the sexual assault charges against current IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the likely need to replace him, German Chancellor Angela Merkel would seem to have forgotten that pledge.

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