IFI governance


Horst Köhler new IMF head

15 April 2000

A vote by the IMF Board has confirmed Horst Köhler, head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, as the next head of the IMF. Köhler was Europe’s second candidate after the US rejected first nomination, Caio Koch Weser. The post is traditionally given to a European but European governments failed to select a candidate until their hand was forced by a group of African governments and the Japanese government who nominated their own candidates.

Whilst Italian Finance Minister, Guiliano Amato, was also mooted for the post, the European nomination was always likely to be a German because they do not currently hold any leadership positions in the key international institutions.

The fiasco over Koch Weser’s rejection, Europe’s determination to maintain the tradition of a European as head of the IMF and the political horse-trading between candidates, has demonstrated how undemocratic the selection process is. Horst Köhler, himself agreed the procedure for selecting the IMF head is “not the best I could imagine…The process should be reviewed and improved.” The Financial Times reported Amato as criticising the process for being a “peculiar and clearly objectionable-one in which the rest of the world looks on as Europe and the US compete to impose their own diktats.”

The IMF board has set up a committee to improve the process.