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The ECB Song Contest?

Choosing the next president of the European Central Bank should not be like picking the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. Instead, Europe should ask which criteria candidates must satisfy to be an effective ECB president, and then search for the person who best meets them.

ZURICH – One can’t help feeling that the race to succeed Mario Draghi as president of the European Central Bank has taken on the flavor of the upcoming final round of the Eurovision Song Contest. Governments want a candidate from their country to win because it makes them look good, not because the candidate would necessarily improve ECB policymaking. Bloc voting, which could pit the European Union’s northern and southern members against each other, is almost certain to be a feature of the appointment process. And, absurdly, some commentators argue that it is their country’s turn to win.

This is clearly the wrong approach. Instead, EU member states should ask which criteria candidates must satisfy to be an effective ECB president, and then search for the person who best meets them. Three requirements stand out.

First, the president must be a team player. Journalists and commentators who have disagreed with the bank’s unconventional stance under Draghi often forget that the ECB president does not set policy, but rather chairs the Governing Council meetings at which policy decisions are taken.

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