Russia backs Kim

Yesterday Russia joined the US, Canada, Mexico, Korea, and Japan in saying they will back Kim.  They have only 1.7 per cent of the votes at the Bank, but they do have one of the 25 board seats. And they’re the first BRICS country to come out for him.  Perhaps tellingly, their statement didn’t explain why they preferred Kim to his more experienced challenger, Okonjo-Iweala.  I expect this is the route those backing Kim for (misguided) geopolitical considerations will go. Praise Kim, don’t mention the alternative, or how they decided his merits were better than Okonjo-Iweala’s. We shall see soon enough.

It’s all over: Dartmouth has spoken

While Bank-watchers were expecting the final decision to be made next week, we should have paid more attention to more reputable sources.  I’m talking of course of Dartmouth College, the US Ivy League school no one outside of the US had ever heard of until its President was plucked from nowhere to run for the World Bank Presidency. Ok, Ok, I’m being unfair. Probably not that many in the US had heard of it either.

But we should all have paid more attention, as they were the first to officially call the outcome of the race. Yes, their head of media relations (a big job, now at least) tells us: Continue reading

Voting arithmetic examined

With all the excited talk about the candidates and their interviews, lets get down to brass tacks – the World Bank Board is going to hold a straw poll today to check into where countries are. While a formal decision is expected to be taken and announced Monday this straw poll is important to see if the developing countries can coalesce around one candidate and make the Europeans think again about the gentleman’s agreement (read: sordid back room deal with the Americans). Who has the numbers?

It is all a bit complicated because the Bank is in the middle of their capital increase, which has not fully gone through all capitals yet. Meaning the voting rights at the board are neither the pre-2010 agreement levels, nor the final 2010 agreement levels. The Bank corporate secretary helpfully published a new table of voting rights by executive director yesterday.

Here’s the arithmetic as far as we know or can guess.

  • US, Canada, Japan for Kim. Lets add Spain/Mexico in that column since the Mexicans declared their preference. And lets Add New Zealand/Australia/South Korea as well since the Korean president has backed Kim.
  • Latin Americans for Ocampo – Brazil nominated him, the Argentinians wouldn’t dream of supporting one of the others at this point.
  • Three African constituencies for Okonjo-Iweala given the African Union support.
Kim 36.7% Okonjo-Iweala 4.9%
Ocampo 5.7% unknown 52.7%

Continue reading

Who came up on top?

I’m already hearing from sources who attended the three interviews over the last three days that Ngozi has come up as the top candidate, followed closely by Ocampo, with Dr. Kim a distant third. Three things have worked for Ngozi to push her over Ocampo, she knows the bank inside-out,  has experience on both sides of the table – a client and world banker-, and that she is an African woman supported by the whole African Union. This, if selected, will make her not only the first non-American to head the bank, but also the first woman, and first African. In the words of the Economist, “May the best woman win”

Jim Yong Kim’s statement to the World Bank’s board

The Treasury Department has published the statement that US nominee, Jim Yong Kim, made Wednesday morning to the in camera session of the World Bank’s executive directors before a lengthy questioning and a private lunch.

CSO colleagues who have been skeptical about the process and about Jim Kim’s writings, background and commitment  should read the ending Continue reading

Ocampo at the CGD public debate

In his turn at the presentations organised at CGD, José Antonio Ocampo expressed his view on the Bank, being quite critical of the issues in which, according to him, the institution has not performed well, like country ownership and cooperation with other international organisations. He also expressed the need to change the culture of the Bank in order for it to become a clients-based organisation, and criticised the US for not increasing capital or allowing other countries to do so.

On country ownership he said: Continue reading

World Bank Board to hold a straw poll Friday

Reuters is reporting that the Board of Executive Directors will hold a “straw poll” this Friday, ahead of the formal vote on the 16th. The usually well informed, Lesley Wroughton, writes “The board meets on Friday to conduct a straw poll to see if one candidate emerges as a clear favourite. It is expected to announce its choice on April 16, in time for the IMF and World Bank meetings of global finance leaders in Washington the same week.”

Latin American CSOs hold WB EDs to account for their vote

Below is a guest post by María José Romero of the Latin American network of NGOs Latindadd, with its secretariat in Lima, Peru.

In a letter sent on April 5 to World Bank Executive Directors representing Latin American countries, Latin American NGOs Fundar, DAR and Latindadd asked about the criteria for the selection of the new President of the institution. José Antonio Ocampo, the Colombian candidate to lead the World Bank has already met 18 of the 25 Bank’s Executive Directors and on Tuesday 10 April (today) the Board of Executive Directors as a whole will interview him.

In an ideal world each and every Latin American country should support Ocampo’s candidacy. As Kevin Gallagher says, “if the decision is finally based on merit, as it should be, Ocampo will win: he is far and away better than any on the list of credible names, including President Barack Obama’s nominee, Jim Yong Kim.” Continue reading