World Bank presidency can’t be a done deal

As the global financial crisis threatens to undo years of progress in poor countries, the World Bank has raised its lending to unprecedented levels – $57 billion in 2011, more than double what it committed in 2008. With the cash, comes sway over developing countries’ policies, poverty programs, and governance systems.

The Bank only operates in developing countries, and it is people in these countries who must live day-to-day with its policies and programs. The Bank surely has an interest, then, in shoring up its legitimacy and credibility in its dealing with these clients. And indeed, the Bank holds itself up as a model of accountability, transparency and good governance.

Yet the very starting point of the Bank’s own governance, its leadership, is a stitch-up. Continue reading

And the winner of the poll is…

As we closed the World Bank president poll this week, over 15,000 people had voted for their favourite developing country candidate.

The result? Well, our friends in Indonesia came out in force, resulting in a landslide victory for Sri Mulyani Indrawati, an Indonesian economist and one of the current Managing Directors of the World Bank Group, who beat her opponents with a staggering 87% of the votes.

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Calls for developing country candidates growing stronger

With over 2,200 votes on the poll within less than a week of its launch, the demand for developing world candidates has perhaps never been stronger.

Devesh Kapur, who co-authored the official history of the World Bank, calls the nomination process “dreadfully antiquated” in an article for the New Europe Post Online, arguing that the Bank in reality has little choice but to look to the growing emerging-market economies, rather than the indebted West, for resources. But they would then “rightly demand a greater voice in running the Bank”. Kapur lists Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, Ernest Zedillo of Mexico and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria, to name a few, as favoured developing country candidates. But he also doesn’t rule out Hilary Clinton as a credible candidate.

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