Question time for candidates! Public debate needed for IMF leadership post

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The official candidates for the position of managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have now emerged, but their positions on important topics facing the Fund are not yet clear. Civil society groups set out four pre-requisites for a new head of the IMF in April, including experience running intergovernmental institutions, independence, personal characteristics, and understanding of key issues.

A test of the first three areas is possible from looking at the candidates’ background, but for the last of these, their views are not clear. The IMF still needs fundamental reform if it is to be relevant to the global economy of the 21st century and to operate in the interests of ordinary people all over the world. We believe there are 4 key areas where these candidates must answer questions and that these questions should be answered in a public debate among the candidates.

1.      Reforming the IMF

Despite two major pushes for reform in the last five years, IMF governance remains undemocratic and unaccountable with Europe still be substantially over-represented.

a.      Will you strongly support the introduction of double majority decision making for all decisions at the IMF, to strengthen consensus decision making and give greater voice to small and low-income countries?

In 2009 the IMF agreed to adopt an “open, merit-based and transparent process for the selection of IMF management”, yet the current process has been criticised and neither of the two recent appointments to deputy managing director positions were done through an open, transparent and merit-based process.

 b.      How exactly would you reform the appointment processes for all IMF management, particularly how would you recruit deputy managing directors so that the 2009 commitments are kept?

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Heading for the right choice? A professional approach to selecting the IMF boss

An April report from 21 civil society organisations calls for the reform of the process for selecting the International Monetary Fund’s managing director. The paper asks for an end to the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ that gives the US the choice of the World Bank head and European governments that of the IMF. Wishing to see instead a transparent, fair, merit-based process focussed on selecting the best candidate available; whilst ensuring the legitimacy gained from the backing of a majority of countries as well as IMF voting shares.

Read the full report here