Holland warns against political play over IMF role

9th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 8, 2007 - France's decision to back a leading socialist to head the IMF brought mixed reactions at home on Sunday, while media reports suggested Italy and Poland might yet put forward competing candidates.

PARIS, July 8, 2007 - France's decision to back a leading socialist to head the IMF brought mixed reactions at home on Sunday, while media reports suggested Italy and Poland might yet put forward competing candidates.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in an interview with a French newspaper that he would support the candidacy of former finance minister and Socialist Party stalwart Dominique Strauss-Kahn to head the IMF.

Sarkozy said he had already presented Strauss-Kahn's candidacy to the prime ministers of Spain, Italy and Britain, as well as to US President George W. Bush.

But France's Socialist Party leader suggested Sunday that Sarkozy's support for Strauss-Kahn might be a political manoeuvre.

"The possibility offered to Europe and to France to direct the International Monetary Fund must not be used for domestic political ends," Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande warned on the French Radio J.

Sarkozy was "always in search of a manoeuvre", said Hollande, while agreeing that Strauss-Kahn, an economist, would make a solid candidate for the IMF post.

"Dominique Strauss-Kahn's expertise in finance is recognised on an international scale," he said. "I don't know if he will be a candidate. But what I do know is that European heads of government have cited his name."

Sarkozy's announcement was the latest move in the centre-right president's policy of endorsing top socialists, including naming several to his government.

Some political commentators have portrayed his support for Strauss-Kahn as a savvy political tactic both to both cross party lines and rob the opposition socialists of one of their key figures.

Sarkozy said in the interview, published late Saturday in Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper, that Strauss-Kahn "seemed to me to be the most capable candidate for this job".

Strauss-Kahn, who sought to be the Socialist Party's candidate in presidential elections held earlier this year but was defeated by Segolene Royal, has not yet said whether he is interested in the IMF post.

By an unwritten agreement, the Washington-based IMF is traditionally headed by a European while its sister institution, the World Bank, is run by an American.

The German finance ministry has already said it supports Strauss-Kahn as a candidate for the IMF post. The World Bank's chief economist Francois Bourguignon has said the French politician would be a good person for the job.

But US newspaper Wall Street Journal on Thursday named Italian Economy Minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa and the governor of the Bank of Italy, Mario Draghi, as possible candidates.

The Financial Times newspaper in Britain named two Poles, former central bank president Leszek Balcerowicz and former prime minister Marek Belka.

"If Balcerowicz's candidacy is accepted next week by EU finance ministers, it will have the support of the Polish government," Polish daily Rzeczpospolita reported Sunday.

The current head of the IMF, Rodrigo Rato of Spain, surprised IMF-watchers with a recent announcement that he would resign in October as managing director, two years before his mandate is due to expire.

Rato cited personal reasons for his decision.

The IMF executive board is due to meet Monday to consider the selection process for a successor to Rato.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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