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France’s Lagarde seems poised to become the first woman head of the IMF

Tuesday, June 28th 2011 - 06:40 UTC
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Christine Lagarde has the support from Europe, China and probably the US Christine Lagarde has the support from Europe, China and probably the US

France's Christine Lagarde picked up an endorsement from China Monday, raising her chances to become head of the International Monetary Fund. The IMF board is expected to make the decision between Lagarde, France's Finance minister, and Mexican Central bank chief Agustin Carstens as early as Tuesday.

Since the race began in late May, 55-year-old Lagarde, put forward by Europe, has been the strong favourite, even though Washington, the IMF key power broker, had not yet signalled its choice.

China's confirmation of its backing for Lagarde showed that objections expressed by emerging economies to yet another European IMF executive director would probably have little effect on the final decision.

Speaking in London, China's central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan said Beijing had already expressed “quite full support” for Lagarde's candidacy. “Of course we still do not know what the final situation will be. Currently, there doesn't seem to be anything unclear about it,” he said.

Nevertheless, Carstens, 53, picked up endorsements from Australia and Canada on Friday, suggesting that the fight was not yet a “done deal,” as Lagarde's backers have claimed since the outset.

The 187-nation Fund was left adrift after managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned on May 18, in the middle of tense negotiations over Greece's massive bailout and worries about the state of other economies in Europe. But Strauss-Kahn quit to face charges in New York that he sexually assaulted a hotel maid, allegations which he denies.

His departure sparked a push by emerging economies for one of their own to head the IMF, after 65 years of Europeans under a tacit agreement with the United States, which locked up the presidency of the World Bank in return.

The IMF board of 24 members said it wants to decide the position “by consensus” before the end of June. If that cannot be achieved, the board would vote, and because they have by far the largest quotas in the IMF, Europe -- with 32% -- and the United States -- with 17% -- are the key players.

Carstens' endorsements from Australia and Canada, while significant, by comparison would add just 4.5% of the vote to whatever other support he could garner.

Categories: Politics, International.

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