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End the US Stranglehold on the World Bank

Since the World Bank was created after World War II, its president has always been selected by the United States and backed by European powers, which enjoy a similar monopoly over the directorship of the International Monetary Fund. But with US President Donald Trump having nominated an unsuitable candidate, that may be about to change.

LONDON – Nominations opened this week for the World Bank presidency, one of the most powerful and important jobs in the international system. Many commentators have assumed that US President Donald Trump’s pick for the job will be a shoo-in. But history and current geopolitical conditions suggest this may not be the case.

To be sure, the United States has selected all 12 previous World Bank presidents, owing to an informal deal it struck with European governments after World War II, granting the Europeans the pick of the top job at the International Monetary Fund in exchange. Yet there are three reasons to think that this anachronistic carve-up of the international financial system’s top jobs could be about to end.

First, the leadership selection process at international organizations is becoming increasingly merit-based across the board. For example, everyone assumed that the Eastern European Group would get its “turn” to pick the next secretary-general of the United Nations in 2016. But after several rounds of public voting, the General Assembly elected former Portuguese Prime Minister António Guterres, the nominee of the Western European and Others Group.

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