Clinton for World Bank President? But which one?

Kristoffer Tripplaar/SIPA/ABACAUSA.COM

As Robert Zoellick announced he will step down from the World Bank Presidency in June, speculation over who will replace him is rife.

Various reports suggest that emerging front-runners are US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and perhaps more surprisingly, her husband, former US President Bill Clinton.Zoellick, who has been in the top job at the World Bank for five years, was formerly U.S. chief trade negotiator and deputy secretary of state.

Since the Bretton Woods Institutions came into being in 1944, the World Bank Presidency has always been taken up by an American, while the IMF has traditionally been headed up by a European, but there have been calls from the international community to break this monopoly.

Emerging economies such as Brazil, and NGOs like Oxfam argue that for the Bank to be truly representative in its wider role in the developing world it needs to appoint a president through an open and competitive process, breaking the cycle of Western dominance, and giving more of a voice to under-represented developing nations.

The Obama administration has said that it will open up the process to competition, providing the possibility that a non-US citizen could take up the role, but experts think this is unlikely. It remains a tempting role for the US President to reward a political ally with, and keep a grip on the world's top development lender.

Hillary Clinton

The US Secretary of State has been widely touted as a successor to Zoellick, and a source who knows her well told Reuters that she wants the job.

Officially the move has been denied by the State Department, but Mrs Clinton's decision to step down from her current role after the presidential election later this year has fuelled speculation.

Bill Clinton

The former US President has also been rumoured to be on the shortlist of potential candidates and his reputation would make him acceptable to both US and non-US critics alike, making him a plausible choice.

Interestingly, Mr Clinton would also rely on Hillary stepping down from her current position in order to take up the job. However, observers believe that he has the stature to take on the role and would be a popular choice.

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, former White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers, and current Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner have also been rumoured to be on the shortlist.
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