Corridors of Power: Sarko, Aznar, Osama and Summer in the Med

Corridors of Power: Sarko, Aznar, Osama and Summer in the Med

SARKO THE PERSUADER -- That French President Nicolas Sarkozy was going to be the Energizer Bunny of international politics was clear from the moment he first bounced up the steps of the Élysée Palace in his jogging shorts. But he has also shown strong powers of persuasion. One prime example: Sarko persuaded the European Union -- over breakfast, no less -- to back France's candidate for managing director of the International Monetary Fund in Washington.

The governments of Italy, Poland, and the Netherlands all had their own nominations to succeed the Spaniard Rodrigo Rato, who is resigning in October. But all the other names were withdrawn, and the Europeans -- Britain excepted -- agreed to back Socialist economist Dominique Strauss-Kahn as the sole EU candidate for the post, which traditionally goes to a European. The IMF's sister institution, the World Bank, is always headed by an American.

Even so, Strauss-Kahn's appointment is not yet a done deal, according to international banking sources in Washington. There is no objection to the Frenchman himself, but the process of selection is coming under long overdue scrutiny. Rodrigo Rato had set in motion a redistribution of power in the IMF governing board that would reflect changes in the world economy since the IMF was launched 60 years ago -- and the loser inevitably will be Europe. At the moment, for example, China has less power on the board than Belgium.

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