'Unlikely' that next ECB head is Italian: German report
The German weekly Die Zeit said Wednesday that the chances of Italian central bank governor Mario Draghi becoming the next European Central Bank (ECB) president have diminished.
It is "unlikely" that Draghi, considered a leading candidate along with German counterpart Axel Weber, will be named to replace Jean-Claude Trichet in October, the magazine said, citing unidentified "high ranking French and German monetary officials."
According to the report, Germany is not inclined to see the key institution run by someone from a southern European country, a region at the heart of the eurozone debt crisis.
German central bank chief Axel Weber, meanwhile, is seen as a staunch defender of monetary policies based on steadfast adherence to the fight against inflation, a top Berlin priority.
The nomination last year of Vitor Constancio of Portugal as ECB vice president also suggested that the bank's next president would come from a northern European eurozone member country.
Last week however, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi voiced support for Draghi during a visit to Berlin.
"It is clear that it would be a great honour for us if European leaders chose a central bank chief that comes from Italy," Berlusconi said.
The popular German daily Bild said meanwhile that Chancellor Angela Merkel had decided to start a campaign in favour of Weber, who has rankled EU leaders with outspoken positions regarding ECB purchases of eurozone government bonds.
Bild said Merkel hoped to reassure Germans by getting Weber named because many complain they will be forced to pay for more bailouts as financial market pressure builds on Portugal, considered to be most at risk after rescues last year for Greece and Ireland.
On Tuesday, French ministers Laurent Wauquiez and Wolfgang Schaeuble said it was too early and too risky to name Trichet's successor but many believe the race to succeed him has now begun.
© 2011 AFP