August 7, 2022

I.M.F.’s Emerging Market Directors Criticize Selection Process for Top Post

Ms. Lagarde has been focusing intently on her candidacy in recent days, a French government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday. Late Tuesday, she scheduled a news conference to start just before noon on Wednesday in Paris, without confirming the topic.

Respected internationally, Ms. Lagarde has won support from Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, the British chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, and most of Europe’s political establishment.

This has made her front-runner to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned from the helm of the I.M.F. last week to fight charges that he sexually assaulted a maid in a New York hotel.

Still, the selection process for the job — which has always been held by a European — has drawn increasing criticism from leaders of emerging markets and other countries, which have sought to promote strong candidates of their own in recent days.

On Tuesday, the I.M.F.’s executive directors representing Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — the emerging economies commonly known as the BRICS — issued a firmly worded statement condemning the custom of appointing Europeans to lead the fund.

A transparent, merit-based and competitive process for the selection “requires abandoning the obsolete unwritten convention that requires that the head of the I.M.F. be necessarily from Europe,” they said in the statement.

“We are concerned with public statements made recently by high-level European officials to the effect that the position of managing director should continue to be occupied by a European,” they said, adding that these comments contradicted announcements, made by Jean-Claude Junker, president of the Euro group when Mr. Strauss-Kahn was selected in 2007, that the next I.M.F. leader would not be a European.

The statement stopped well short of rejecting Ms. Lagarde’s candidacy, saying merely that technical background and political acumen, rather than nationality, should be the main factors determining the choice of future managing directors.

But the statement also spotlighted what has become in increasingly common refrain among emerging market nations on the global economic and political stage: that the gradual shift in economic and demographic influence to rapidly developing countries should be reflected in increasing representation for them in international institutions.

“Adequate representation of emerging market and developing members in the fund’s management is critical to its legitimacy and effectiveness,” the executive directors’ statement said.

Still, in the absence of any consensus among emerging-market nations on a single candidate from their ranks, there appeared to be little to indicate that a bid by Ms. Lagarde would be derailed.

Mexico is nominating the governor of its central bank, Agustin Carstens, who told Reuters in an interview that the United States had welcomed his participation in the race for the job but was neutral on whether to support his candidacy.

Arvind Virmani, who represents India and three other countries on the I.M.F. board, told Bloomberg News in an interview that there appeared little chance that a candidate from an emerging market would succeed in getting the job. “There is no indication which suggests that the result will be any different this time,” he said.

Liz Alderman reported from Paris.

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