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As the race for the top job at the IMF continues, European nations are expected to support a candidate from the region, so as to continue the agency's uninterrupted support to the debt-laden region. But they face challenges from new emerging economies seeking a bigger say in the IMF. Meanwhile, the U.S. is widely expected to throw its support behind French candidate, Christine Lagarde.
Analysts say the new IMF chief is more likely to be European. That's due to two factors. The IMF has been led by Europeans since the global lender's founding, and it's become something of an established tradition. More pressingly, the lingering Eurozone debt crisis has become the IMF's most immediate priority. European countries will put their weight behind a European chief, so as to guarantee the agency's support to the region.
But new emerging economies, headed by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, are laying down the gauntlet. In a joint statement, the BRICS countries say the selection of the new IMF chief should disregard the criteria that the successful candidate must come from a European country. They're also calling for a greater representation of developing countries within the IMF.
On the record, U.S. Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, says selection of new IMF chief must be an open, transparent and merit-based process. The U.S. is positioning itself as a champion of governance reform, and say the IMF should better reflect the world's changing economic landscape.
But former IMF and finance officials say Washington will ultimately back a European candidate. Experts say that's understandable, the basis of shared values, financial systems and policy direction. European nations hold 35 percent of the voting power at the IMF, and the U.S. and Canada wield an additional combined 20 percent. With a considerable majority over the Asian, Latin American and African ballots, U.S. support would all but ensure Lagarde of the top job.