We know that the USA will expect their candidate to be rubber stamped – but will it be that easy? A lot depends on the G24 – the grouping of developing countries that coordinates positions in the World Bank (and IMF). They will be engaged in an intensive process of coming up with potential alternative candidates, and seeing if they can peel away enough Western states to make life difficult for the US.
What does the math look like? Developing countries – those classified as low-income or middle-income by the Bank – have nine of the 25 World Bank Executive Directors. However, eight Executive Directors from high-income countries represent constituencies with developing countries in them (even if, in voting shares, they are normally a small share of the constituency total). They are Uruguay, Switzerland, Netherlands, Kuwait, Canada, Korea, Italy and Austria.
Can the G24 persuade enough of these EDs to side with them in the face of what will be intense pressure from the US? A lot will depend on the quality of the candidate that the Trump administration puts forward – and how they compare with the candidate (s) that the G24 can rustle up from their own members. It will also depend – of course – on the willingness of other countries, particularly European countries (which are very over-represented on the board, with eight EDs) to upset the US – or rather, to upset the Trump administration. One precedent they should bear in mind is the disastrous selection of Paul Wolfowitz by the Bush (Junior) administration – which ended in him being ejected after just two years, partly thanks to opposition from European governments. Will they risk another catastrophe at the Bank just to keep the Trump administration happy?