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With the overdue resignation of Paul Wolfowitz, a very difficult period has ended at the World Bank. What matters now is the selection of the next bank president. The high cost of rubber-stamping the choice of a single government should now be evident to all concerned.
I wish the Bush administration would announce its support for an open, competitive and merit-based process. If not, I hope that the Europeans and other member governments take responsibility for scrutinizing and if necessary vetoing any candidate who lacks the necessary management experience, understanding of development issues, and political smarts to lead the bank effectively. The issue should not be nationality; there are eminently qualified Americans and non-Americans.
This whole mess illustrates the need for change in how the nations of the world oversee the bank. To succeed in leading any change the next World Bank president will sorely need the legitimacy and broad support that only a widely accepted, merit-based selection process can provide.
CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.