Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned as head of the IMF late Wednesday night, triggering a world-wide hunt for his replacement at the intergovernmental organization. In a statement released by the IMF, Strauss-Kahn said he wanted to "protect the institution" and focus on proving his innocence. The 62-year-old was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of attempted rape. An instrumental player in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, Strauss-Kahn leaves behind an institution tasked with alleviating Europe's debt crisis.
Already, regional powerhouses are jockeying for their preferred replacements. Since World War II, a European has headed the IMF while an American leads the World Bank. But the increasing clout of developing countries threatens to shakeup that longstanding tradition. Europe has a big advantage, controlling 35.6 percent of the votes on the IMF board for a vote that only requires a simple majority, reports The Wall Street Journal. If the countries vote together, it's expected that they can easily elect the favored candidate, French finance minister Christine Lagarde. "Her straight talk has helped burnish Ms. Lagarde’s reputation as one of Europe’s most influential ambassadors in the world of international finance," reports The New York Times.
However, if the BRIC countries join together (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and quickly rally behind a single candidate they could make a strong case that, given the financial clout of emerging economies, the institution would lose relevance if the managing director didn't come from a BRIC state. "Institutions such as the IMF must reform so that they can become credible, and to be credible they must represent the interests and fully reflect the voices of all countries, not just a few industrialized nations," said Pravin Gordhan, South Africa's finance minister, in a statement. A strong choice for an emerging market region so far is Singapore's finance minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, reports The Wall Street Journal. "He's technically very sound and he is respected within the institution," said Thailand's finance minister Korn Chatikavanij. Another strong candidate is Kemal Dervis, the former finance minister of Turkey. "Mr. Dervis is credited with rescuing the Turkish economy after it was hit by a devastating financial crisis in 2001, in part by securing a multibillion-dollar loan from the I.M.F.," reports the Times.
Below his Strauss-Kahn's reisgnation letter issued by the IMF