The world's major emerging economies have criticised Europe's efforts to ensure that the next chief of the IMF is again from the continent.
In a unique show of force and unity, the IMF executive directors from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa issued a joint statement in which they called for an end to the “obsolete unwritten convention” that head of the fund must be a European.
BRICS nations claim the longstanding deal that has allowed only Europeans to lead the IMF "undermines the legitimacy of the Fund" and the process is against all good principles of governance.
“We are concerned with the public statements made recently by high-level European officials to the effect that the position of managing director should continue to be occupied by a European,” the executive directors said in a statement released by the IMF in Washington. “The convention that the selection of the managing director is made, in practice, on the basis of nationality undermines the legitimacy of the fund.”
The statement represents the most significant display of strength by emerging economies since debate about choosing a new leader for the IMF heated up last week after the resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn following his arrest in USA when a hotel maid charged that he attempted to rape her on May 14.
The IMF’s 24-member executive board is taking nominations for a new managing director until June 10, and hopes to choose Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s replacement by June 30.
Europe’s leaders have been rallying support for French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde for the position that a European has held since the IMF’s inception in 1946. Ms. Lagarde already has been endorsed by countries such as Britain, Italy and the Netherlands, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke highly of her on several occasions last week.
But Europe’s eagerness to put forward a candidate has been interpreted by some as unfair and taking advantage of its institutional ties in the European Union to quickly coalesce around a candidate, and intimidating others from joining the race.
In their letter, the IMF directors from countries commonly referred to as the BRICS nations pointed out that at the time of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s selection to lead the fund in 2007, at least some European politicians promised to thereafter relinquish their hold on the job.
“We believe that if the fund is to have credibility and legitimacy, its managing director should be selected after broad consultation with the membership,” the statement said. “It should result in the most competent person being appointed as Managing Director, regardless of his or her nationality. We also believe that adequate representation of emerging market and developing members in the Fund’s management is critical to its legitimacy and effectiveness.”