Spain 'obliged' to back Carstens as IMF chief over Lagarde

31st May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spain said Tuesday it would support Mexico's Agustin Carstens for the post of IMF head under an agreement it has with Latin American countries -- although it would prefer France's Christine Lagarde.

Spain shares a seat at the International Monetary Fund with Mexico, Venezuela and four smaller Central American nations, Finance Minister Elena Salgado said.

As a result of the alliance, if one of the countries sharing the seat presents a candidate, the others must vote for that person, she said, even if Spain represents 35 percent of the votes among those countries.

But "the position of Spain is that the French minister (Finance Minister Lagarde) is an excellent candidate and it is she whom we would like to see in the (IMF) post."

Carstens, 52, the governor of the Bank of Mexico and former Mexican finance minister, is a declared candidate for the IMF managing director's post vacated by Dominique Strauss-Kahn after the Frenchman was arrested and charged with attempted rape in New York.

He will face Lagarde, who has the backing of other large European countries.

Traditionally the post of IMF chief has gone to a European while the World Bank president has been from the United States.

But in interviews with Spain's El Pais daily and Expansion economic journal on Tuesday, Carstens said the current woes of the euro illustrated that "Europe doesn't need a European at the IMF but solutions".

"I dare say that it might be more appropriate to have a non-European because a new set of eyes can look at Europe's problems more objectively, especially if it's someone of experience, who comes up with a plan of action which might be a bit tougher but also more realistic," Carstens said.

© 2011 AFP

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