Germany: Europe to decide soon on IMF candidate

Reuters News
Posted: May 20, 2011 12:06 PM

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Friday that Europe would decide soon on a common candidate to become the next head of the International Monetary Fund.

"We need a common European candidate and we are looking for the one who is best qualified and has the best chance," he told reporters. "A decision will definitely come soon."

Schaeuble said Germany had "not given up on presenting a candidate of its own" to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn, but was in favor of European countries taking a joint decision on whom to present.

The minister was said by a source on Thursday to have a "very high opinion" of the French frontrunner to head the Washington-based lender, Finance Minister Christine Lagarde.

But the official German government position is that, while Chancellor Angela Merkel holds Lagarde in high esteem, no decision has been made on who will get the top job at the IMF.

A Reuters poll of economists showed on Thursday that 32 of 56 thought Lagarde was most likely to succeed Strauss-Kahn.

Lagarde declined to say whether she was interested, but told reporters: "Any candidacy, whichever it is, must come from Europeans jointly, all together."

(Reporting by Gernot Heller; writing by Stephen Brown; Editing by John Stonestreet)