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Swiss might not back European as IMF head

The Swiss representative to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said a European may not be the best person for the vacant managing director’s position.

René Weber is one of 24 IMF executive directors who will cast votes to decide the eventual replacement for former French managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned his position last week.

“Switzerland is not a priori supporting a European. For us the qualifications, the track record, and the requirements of the mandate – maintaining stable currency and financial relations – are key,” Weber said in an interview published in the Sonntag newspaper.

The IMF has been run by a European since it was created at the end of the Second World War. Developing countries say the tradition is outdated, and that the position should be chosen on merit.

But Europeans say that one of their own would be best placed to head the IMF because the organisation is heavily involved in resolving the European debt crisis. Weber said he was not “convinced by the argument”.

“It could, on the contrary, be better if an external person points to the economic weak points within the euro zone.”

Weber said Europe was disadvantaged because Ireland, Greece and Portugal had received large bailouts while emerging countries had gained in confidence and economic strength.


Nominations for Strauss-Kahn’s replacement open on Monday and close June 11. The executive board will select a candidate “by consensus” by June 30, the IMF said in a statement.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR