The resignation of DSK is a sad, even tragic ending, to an IMF leader who did manage to begin to pry open the institution. New ideas were bubbling up, or maybe bubbling in. All was not well in terms of transparency, awareness of the impact of policies on the poor or the environment–whether before policies were required or after the fact. The distribution of power among countries remains highly skewed in favor of status quo powers, with little space for the myriad small and poor to speak or better to influence the institution. But, like the G20, the IMF Board has elevated the emerging major economic powers–all without the need for another world war.
But now our focus must be on the leadership process that is inclusive, transparent and merit based. The IMF and World Boards prepared a long-ignored joint document on how to execute such a process. The IMF Board alone on July 12, 2007 issued its own clear roadmap on how to conduct such a selection process, which was again ignored.
The drama and speed of the leadership change this time cannot be used as another excuse to revert to old ways. The Executive Board must exercise the power that is theirs and conduct a merit-based search. Europe does not need to be excluded, but it cannot act as the presumptive heirs to a throne. And the problems of the euro and of European debt are not a basis for any selection preference–No Latin American or African was chosen when their regions were in crisis; nor an Asian during the Asian crisis. There are many women and men who are well qualified for this position. Let the search begin.