While officials break promises, chorus grows for open process

Officials from various European countries seem to be tripping over each other to break promises and demand the continuation of an anachronistic and illegitimate system to install a European at the head of the IMF. But it seems that everyone else in the world knows that it isn’t the right way to go.

The Financial Times editorialised  “There will be a temptation – given the fund’s history and its deep involvement in the eurozone debt crisis – simply to reach for another European to head the institution. But while this might seem the easier course, it would be a mistake. The fund’s shareholders should cast their net widely in the search for a possible successor.”

Arvind Subramaniam, a former Fund official from the Peterson Institute of International Economics, and Nicolas Veron, of the Brussels-based Bruegal wrote: “Europe can no longer claim the job of MD: Europe no longer has the divine right to this job”.

Owen Barder, writing for the Center for Global Development think tank in Washington DC: “This seems a good time to recall the Leaders’ Statement at the G-20 summit in London on 2 April 2009: ‘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;’ This is important for four reasons.  First, we want good people in these jobs. …”

Last month when Gordon Brown’s name came up, the Guardian newspaper in the UK editorialised: “The job of running the IMF should never have been treated as a bauble to be handed around rich European countries. That always looked ridiculous; amid this crisis it now appears dangerous.”

While David Bosco at Foreign Policy magazine has not outright supported an open and merit-based process at the IMF, he has said “it’s a bit cheeky to contend that being a large IMF borrower somehow entitles you to the managing director slot.”

With NGOs and campaigners having long demanded such a process, along with emerging markets, and the intelligentsia, how long will it take for European politicians to realise that illegitimate is simply illegitimate.

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