Though the U.S. 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, the World Bank is considering more than one
candidate for its five-year presidency -- a change that reflects the
fast-growing clout of emerging economies, even as it raises
questions over whether that change is coming quickly enough.
Experts say that victory is all but assured for the U.S. nominee,
Jim Yong Kim, the president of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire
and an expert in global health. But emerging and developing
economies are rallying behind Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the 57-year-old
Nigerian finance minister, and Jose Antonio Ocampo, the former
Colombian finance minister and high-ranking U.N. official, who is
The World Bank's 25-member board will interview all three
candidates in the coming weeks and plans to announce its new
president by the I.M.F.-World Bank meetings in mid-April. Robert B.
Zoellick, the current president, will step down at the end of June.
Ms. Okonjo-Iweala and Mr. Ocampo have won the endorsement of a
group of developing economies. And the United States is weathering
criticism for the time-honored gentlemen's agreement that ensures
its control of the World Bank, even if the institution's
presidential selection process is 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 in New York State and an expert on international
institutions. "Domestic politics has again trumped true
Global health experts largely applauded Dr. Kim's nomination, and
he has scooped up endorsements from a number of prominent
commentators, like the development economist Jeffrey Sachs. Europe
is expected to back him in that 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 resumes and expertise in
development and international economic negotiation. African
governments lobbied the Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, to
encourage Ms. Okonjo-Iweala to run; the Group of 11 emerging
economies pushed for Mr. Ocampo.
Ms. Okonjo-Iweala was a World Bank managing director -- working
directly beneath the president -- from 2007 until last July. In
Nigeria, she has fought to reduce the country's debt, gain greater
access to international credit markets and battle corruption.
Mr. Ocampo served as finance minister and head of the Colombian
central bank and led the United Nations' economic development arm.
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 he said his four decades of experience in development and
international policy made him an excellent candidate. "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 toward a democratic process."
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 for herself, Mr. …