Though the American nominee is virtually certain to win, the fact
that more than one candidate is in the running attests to the rising
political and economic clout of the developed world.
For the first time in its history, the World Bank is considering
more than one candidate for its five-year presidency, a change that
reflects the fast-growing political and economic clout of emerging
economies, even as it raises questions over whether change is coming
Experts say that victory is all but assured for the American
nominee, Jim Yong Kim, the president of Dartmouth College and an
expert in global health. But emerging and developing economies are
rallying behind Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigerian finance minister,
and Jose Antonio Ocampo, the former Colombian finance minister and
high-ranking United Nations official.
Ms. Okonjo-Iweala and Mr. Ocampo have won the vocal endorsement
of a spate of developing economies. And the United States is
weathering criticism over the gentlemen's agreement that continues
to ensure its control of the World Bank, even if the institution's
presidential selection process appears to be opening up.
"For all its virtues, this nomination and its predetermined
success reflects how global governance continues to lag behind
shifting economic realities," said Eswar S. Prasad, a professor at
Cornell University and an expert on international institutions.
"Domestic politics has again trumped true multilateralism."
Global health experts largely applauded Dr. Kim's nomination, and
he has scooped up the endorsement of a number of prominent
commentators, including the development economist Jeffrey Sachs.
Europe is expected to back him, as the United States supported the
candidacy of Christine Lagarde, the former French finance minister,
for managing director of the International Monetary Fund last year.
Ms. Okonjo-Iweala and Mr. Ocampo were carefully vetted and
specifically chosen for their long experience in development and
international economic negotiation. But with both of them running,
support may be divided between them. African governments lobbied the
Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, to encourage Ms. Okonjo-
Iweala to run; the Group of 11 emerging economies pushed for Mr.
Ms. Okonjo-Iweala was a World Bank managing director from 2007
until last July. In Nigeria she has fought to reduce the country's
debt, win greater access to international credit markets and battle
corruption. Mr. Ocampo served as finance minister and the head of
the Colombian central bank, and he led the arm of the United Nations
that facilitates economic development.
In an interview, Mr. Ocampo expressed some initial hesitancy to
enter the race, given the odds. "It is a relatively unbalanced
competition," he said with a laugh. But his four decades of
experience in international policy-making, he said, made him an
excellent candidate for the position.
"I thought the developing-country candidates who were suitable
for the job should be in the race," he said. "I felt a
responsibility to put a stone in the road towards a democratic
Speaking by telephone from New Delhi, where she was attending the
BRICS meeting of leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South
Africa, Ms. Okonjo-Iweala also called for a merit-based, transparent
selection process, suggesting a televised debate between herself,
Mr. Ocampo and Dr. Kim.
"I have tremendous respect for Dr. Kim," she said. "But you're
looking for the best. You're not just looking for the acceptable. …