May 15, 2011
While Ms Merkel cannot discuss urgent matters on the euro crisis with the IMF while Mr Strauss-Kahn is detained in the United States, Mr Brown has already popped up again as a substitute for Stauss-Kahn for the top IMF job. Even if London is the biggest financial center of Europe, given the British disengagement with the EU it would look very odd if a top British politician would be nominated from this side of the Atlantic.
In the Bretton Woods mathematics as long as the World Bank is held by the American Robert B. Zoellick, Europe should nominate the IMF chief. After we have embarrassed ourselves with the very European Socialist Mr Strauss-Kahn as much as the Bush administration had with the neocon Mr Wolfowitz, a British compromise candidate could look good in the equation. But not in 2011.
There had been a volunteer in line, Gordon Brown, who had already signaled that he would like to fill the job. (At that time, Mr Strauss-Kahn was expected to drop out as a French presidential candidate). David Cameron has a different political instinct than Nicolas Sarkozy (who counter-intuitively but successfully appoints political opponents to international positions) and he would not like to see the Labor politician he defeated the year before.
Mr Cameron would only need to make a single phone call if he would not have pulled out from the European People’s Party, which has 16 prime ministers (the biggest vote-block in the IMF shareholder’s meeting). As Mr Cameron and his partly is not a formal ally of these prime ministers, they could easily support Brown if they had a good reason for it. Some countries will possibly do anyway. For example, if European politicians explicitly wanted to mock Mr Cameron, for instance, because his exit from the EPP alliance left them at the mercy of other groups in the European Parliament, they could take revenge. (This is not likely, as Cameron does not really have allies nor enemies in Europe yet – another sign of disengagement).
It is also interesting to look at Gordon Brown as a candidate himself. While in power, Mr Brown liked to distance himself from the governments he would like to represent as a candidate. He made sure to be late from the Lisbon Treaty signing ceremony so that he won’t be photographed with them. (To show that Britain came first, he attended a House of Commons meeting instead of the signing ceremony of the EU’s most important treaty). It would look rather odd if he would be the candidate of the Europe.
If I wanted to be ironic, he could put himself forward as a Scottish candidate. Scotland appears to be more pro-EU than the United Kingdom, but it still has a very long way to go for the EU membership.
Again, the fact that Britain is not in the eurozone could be cited as an advantage, but Gordon Brown would be a very problematic candidate. A good compromise would be a respectable Danish candidate (a competitive country in the Euro Pact, but not having the euro and thus a conflict of interest). But as Europe had already nominated the former Danish prime minister as a European candidate to the NATO, this is unlikely.
Author : Dániel Antal