Poll: who should be the next World Bank president?

The US has monopolised the Bank presidency since 1944, but leadership selection at the International Financial Institutions is becoming increasingly contested. There have been repeated promises by the Bank to open up the process and select candidates based on merit, in a fair and transparent way. As developing countries become increasingly confident and assertive this could be the year that sees the emergence of a real challenge against the US hold over the position.

But who would the credible candidates be?  Below are nine heavy-weight possible candidates from developing countries. Who do you think would be the best for the job?

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Luisa Diogo

Luisa Diogo became the first female president of Mozambique in 2004. After rising through the finance ministry in the 1980s she became National Budget Director and in 1994 joined the FRELIMO government as Deputy Minister of Finance.  Diogo has a Masters degree in financial economics and worked for the World Bank in Mozambique at the beginning of the 1990s. Diogo is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders and has campaigned for women’s empowerment and free sexual health services throughout Africa.

Michelle Bachelet

In 2002 Bachelet became the first female defence minister of Chile and in 2006 she was elected as the first female president of Chile. In her election campaign she pledged to continue Chile’s free-market policies, whilst increasing social benefits to reduce inequalities between rich and poor. As a student in the 1970s under Pinochet, Bachelet campaigned for democracy until she was exiled to Germany. A qualified pediatrician, Bachelet worked for the Ministry of Health when democracy was restored and rose to become Minister for Health. In the post she sparked controversy by allowing free distribution of the morning-after pill for victims of sexual abuse. In 2010 she was appointed head of UN Women.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Okonjo was recently reappointed Minister of Finance for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Between 2007 and 2011, Okonjo-Iweala was a Managing Director at the World Bank and was touted as a possible candidate for president of the World Bank to replace Paul Wolfowitz in 2007. She previously held roles as a finance minister and a foreign minister in the Nigerian government, the first woman to hold either of these roles. In 2005 Okonjo-Iweala led negotiations with the Paris Club bilateral donors, securing a US $18 billion debt write-off for Nigeria to alleviate Nigeria’s debt-servicing difficulties.

Marina Silva

Marina Silva, a native Amazonian and former Senator served as Brazilian Environment Minister from 2003 until 2008. A staunch advocate of environmental protection and sustainable development, during her tenure she was widely praised for pushing an innovative and integrated environmental policy and overseeing a reduction in deforestation in the Amazon. In 2007 the United Nations Environmental Program named her one of the Champions of the Earth. In 2009 she left the Workers Party and joined the Green Party to run as a presidential candidate in 2010. Contrary to expectations she gained 19.4% of the popular vote.

Sri Mulyani Indrawati

Sri Mulyani Indrawati is an Indonesian economist and currently serves as one of three Managing Directors of the World Bank Group. She has extensive experience in international financial institutions having served as an executive director on the board of the IMF from 2002-2004, representing 12 South East Asian economies. From 2005 to 2010 she served as Indonesian Finance Minister where she was regarded as tough reformer. She initiated wide-scale actions to tackle corruption and attract foreign direct investment, and in 2007 oversaw a growth rate of 6.6%, the highest Indonesian growth rate since 1997. During her tenure foreign reserves vastly increased and public debt reduced. She is widely credited with steering Indonesia through the global financial crisis, with the economy reaching high rates of growth in a period of economic turmoil and widespread recession.

Trevor Manuel

Trevor Manuel currently serves as South African Minister in charge of the highly influential National Planning Commission. A long serving member of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, Manuel was a high profile anti-Apartheid figure and was frequently detained by security forces. Chosen by Nelson Mandela to be Minister of Trade and Industry in the first South African democratically government in 1994, he became Minister of Finance in 1996, a post he held until 2009. During his tenure he is widely credited with overseeing a shift to steady economic growth and a large increase in public spending on housing, health and education. Widely respected in international policy circles he has received numerous awards and recognition for his achievements. He has also chaired influential international committees that have recommended reform of the international financial system.

Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva

Lula was president of Brazil from 2002 until 2010 and is widely regarded as one of the most popular and respected politicians in recent Latin American history. He was a founding member of the Workers Party in Brazil, which followed a long career in the union movement, including prominent activism against the Brazilian military dictatorship in the 1970s. Under Lula’s presidency Brazil became the world’s fifth largest economy on the back of strong economic growth, state investment in infrastructure and key industries, and a conservative monetary policy. Large-scale social programmes were central to Lula’s popularity, and have been credited with bringing as many as 20 million out of acute poverty. Lula has also been praised for his important foreign policy role in the rise of BRIC countries internationally, and strong leadership in Latin America.

Jairam Ramesh

Ramesh was recently appointed Minister of Rural Development of India. He was previously Minister of State at the Ministry of Environment and Forests, participating as chief negotiator at the 2009 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. In the 1990s he was an influential advisor to the Finance Minister in India’s economic reforms. Economist and influential politician of the centre-left Congress Party, Ramesh studied economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the late seventies and is a founding member of the Indian School of Business as well as member of the International Council of the New York-based Asia Society.

Kemal Derviş

Derviş held various positions at the World Bank for 22 years, including Director for the Central Europe Department, Vice-President of the World Bank for the Middle East and North Africa Region, and Vice-President for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management. After his period at the Bank he was appointed Turkish Finance Minister and is considered to be the architect of Turkish successful economic recovery after the 2001 crisis. His international reputation allowed him to be the third highest ranking official at the UN, when he was elected in 2005 as UNDP Administrator. Last year he was widely touted as a leading  contender for the IMF Managing Director position, but quickly ruled himself out of the election process. He is currently Vice President and Director of the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution.

164 thoughts on “Poll: who should be the next World Bank president?

    • You mean the Bank Senior Economist Mick Riordan? Surely that wouldn’t bring much prospect of deep reform at the institution??

  1. I suggest Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former President of Brazil and the true architect of the country’s turnaround. He has a keen, broadscope, development outlook and the managerial and political skills to implement an inclusive program that does not oppose developing and developed countries.

  2. Governor Jon Corzine. He understands financial alchemy. He was able to make $1.5BN in segregated customer funds disappear.

  3. I think that Dr. Mohieldin will be perfect for such appointment:

    Mahmoud Mohieldin, born on 15 January 1965 in Egypt, was appointed in September 2010 to be one of the Managing Directors of the World Bank Group.

    Prior to his appointment, Dr. Mohieldin was the Minister of Investment of the Arab Republic of Egypt, a position he held during 2004-2010. His portfolio included investment policy; the management of state-owned assets; and non-banking financial services, including capital markets, insurance and mortgage finance.

    Mohieldin has also served as a Professor in Financial Economics, at the Faculty of Economics & Political Science, Cairo University. He received his Bachelor of Science in Economics, with highest Honors, First in Order of Merit, from Cairo University, a Master of Science in Economic and Social Policy Analysis from the University of York, England in 1990, and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Warwick, England in 1995.

    • Um, I’m going to be polite and suggest that you’re not all that well-informed about Egyptian politics. The multi-billion dollar illegal privatisation schemes which form the basis of Hosni, Gamal and Ala’a Mubarak’s corruption trials were organised through three men: Rachid Mohamed Rachid, who’s been sentenced to a total of thirty five years in prison in absentia, Youssef Boutros-Ghali, ditto, and Mohamed Mohieldin, who’s suffered the much grimmer fate of working for the World Bank. On the other hand, if you wanted to send a more honest message about the World Bank’s function in developing countries: WE ARE HERE TO STEAL YOUR MONEY THROUGH DODGY PRIVATE SECTOR ACTIVITIES, Mohieldin would be an ideal choice.

      See: http://www.whistleblower.org/blog/42-2012/1688-mahmoud-mohieldin-and-the-perfect-crime

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  7. Surprising there has been no mention of Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister and – in this context, more apposite – long-serving Chancellor of the Exchequer. Brown’s record of negotiating debt cancellation for the world’s poorest nations, tripling Britain’s development aid budget and securing international funds for health care in the Third World would stand him in good stead.
    Brown is sti