Christine Lagarde Plans Global Tour to Rally Support for IMF Bid

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde. Photo by: St. Gallen Symposium / CC BY-NC-SA

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is set to go on a global tour to try to rally more international support for her candidacy as the next managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

Lagarde, who announced her bid for the IMF top post on May 25, said she wants to be endorsed “by a very large majority, rather than being the European candidate pushed by the Europeans,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

>> Christine Lagarde Announces IMF Bid, Reportedly with China, Brazil’s Support

Her global tour is expected to include stops in emerging countries such as India, Brazil and China, which have been pushing for a non-European successor to Dominique Strauss-Khan.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the so-called BRICS countries, recently released a joint statement criticizing the “obsolete convention” of naming a European to lead the fund. Brazil and China, however, are said to be privately backing Lagarde’s candidacy, while Russia said it is positive about the French official’s capacity to lead IMF.

The United States, the largest stakeholder in the fund, remains mum on who it plans to support, but U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that “unofficially,” the country welcomes “women who are well-qualified and experienced to head major organizations such as the IMF.”

Key concerns

Aside from emerging nations’ opposition to another European IMF chief, Lagarde is facing other key concerns in pursuing her candidacy, including her perceived lack of experience as an economist and her role in a long-drawn-out legal battle between French businessman Bernard Tapie and the Credit Lyonnais bank. Lagarde also recognizes the need to show her autonomy from French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

“The strength of my candidacy will be relying on my ability to be and show independence very early on,” she said, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Contenders

So far, the only other contender for the IMF post is Agustin Carstens, the current governor of Mexico’s central bank. Another possible candidate is Stanley Fischer, chief of Israel’s central bank and former IMF first deputy managing director.

Emerging nations are also eyeing to put forward their own candidate, according to Pranab Mukherjee, India’s finance minister.

“I am in touch with some of the finance ministers of developing countries and emerging economies… We are trying to consolidate our position where we can take a view,” he said, according to Agence France-Presse.

India’s representative to IMF, Arvind Virmani, however, noted that it would be “extremely difficult” for a non-European candidate to win the race “unless the voting shares which various countries hold in the IMF are changed to reflect the new economic realities.”

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.