Fed up of the colonial era ambience of the IMF leadership race? Sick of European leaders deciding they have the right to tell the rest of the world to shut up and accept their favoured daughter? Well, you’re not alone. In fact, the first internet surveys suggest you’re in the overwhelming majority.
First off the mark was the Guardian newspaper. In a simple yes / no questions, a whopping 75 per cent said the IMF voting process is “unfair and totally outdated”. Next up came a much more detailed array of questions from the Center for Global development – the poll is still open if you want to have your say. Here are a selection of the top findings:
83 per cent don’t think the Europeans “should maintain their maintain its customary prerogative of seeking IMF Board approval for a single European candidate”.
88 per cent believe “the traditional European prerogative to name the head of the IMF … should be replaced by a selection process that is open, competitive and merit-based, without regard to nationality.”
And a majority – 51 per cent – are in favour of election by a ‘double majority’ – where more than half of IMF member countries have to support the leader, as well as a majority of shares (where Europe and the US have an inbuilt majority.) Only one in four disagree.
So, the wonks like me who vote in these kinds of polls want to kick out the current system – but why stop there? The financial and economic crisis has been a long played out disaster for ordinary people across the world, particularly those who have gained least under the latest wave of globalisation. As Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz points out “Even if the shareholders and bondholders lose everything, with the right restructuring, we can still save the banks and protect taxpayers and workers. Where the IMF’s next managing director will come down on this issue – and on whether fiscal salvation is to be achieved through austerity, with costs borne by ordinary citizens, even as bankers get only a mild slap on the wrist – is critically important”.
So, isn’t it time for a bit more democracy at the IMF – after all, we will all pay the tab if the current shambolic system of international economic mismanagement continues.