France's Lagarde urges single European candidate for IMF

19th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, mentioned as a possible successor to Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the IMF, said on Thursday that Europe should unite behind a single candidate.

"Any candidacy, whoever's it may be, should come from the Europeans, who unite, all together," she said on the sidelines of a news conference in Paris.

She did not address directly the question of her own possible candidacy.

Strauss-Kahn, who is also French, resigned as managing director of the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday in a letter from Rikers Island jail in New York, where he is awaiting trial on sexual assualt charges.

The leadership of the Washington-based institution, a key pillar of world financial architecture, is traditionally given to a European, and Lagarde has been cited as a possible candidate.

Lagarde herself has remained silent about the speculation, but if she were to be candidate she would have supporters in Paris.

"I hope the Europeans do everything to promote Christine Lagarde, who has absolutely all the necessary qualities," said Jean-Louis Borloo, leader of the Radical Party and until earlier this year one of her cabinet collaeagues.

A current member of the government, however, qualified her chances.

"I think she'd be a very, very good candidate," Transport Minister Thierry Mariani told France Info radio. "That said, it will be hard in the current climate. It's not only France, alas, that dreams of leading the IMF."

Officially, the International Monetary Fund's 24-member executive board votes to decide who fills the top post, with votes weighted based on member countries' and regions' subscription quotas.

But traditionally it has been negotiated based on a pact that gives the United States the World Bank's top job and Europe the IMF position.

Some European leaders have already called for another European to be named, with Lagarde and former German central banker Axel Weber mentioned as possible candidates.

But some emerging economies would like to see a candidate from outside the major western capitals such as Turkish former UN official Kemal Dervis, Indian planner Montek Singh Ahluwalia or Mexican central banker Agustin Carstens.

© 2011 AFP

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