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Lagarde Is the Right Choice

The nomination of Christine Lagarde to be the next president of the European Central Bank is a breath of fresh air for the stale, male-dominated institution. Incumbent President Mario Draghi may seem like a hard act to follow, but Lagarde has what it takes to succeed. She needs to be bold.

LONDON – The choice of Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund and a former French finance minister, to succeed Mario Draghi as president of the European Central Bank, is controversial. It should not be.

To be sure, the political horse-trading through which top European Union positions are allocated is unedifying. Lagarde was selected not in an open, merit-based appointment process, but rather as part of a backroom deal that also involved the nomination of Ursula von der Leyen, the German defense minister, to be the next president of the European Commission.

But despite the opacity of the appointment process, and although she was chosen in part because she is a woman, French, and from the center-right European People’s Party, Lagarde would bring formidable qualities to the role. She has the tenacity and political skills to have succeeded first as a lawyer, then as a politician, and most recently as an international technocrat. Her eight years at the IMF have given her immense global experience and stature. Above all, like Draghi, in a crisis she would be willing to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro.