Six candidates in OECD race

 

The selection of the next secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)started yesterday with the naming of six candidates in a race considered wide open.

Candidates from Australia, France, Japan, Mexico, Poland and South Korea will try to win support of the 30-member governments of the Paris-based OECD. The choice will be made by consensus in December.

Of the six, four are former finance ministers and two are academics.

The most senior politician is Marek Belka, prime minister of Poland. France has proposed Alain Madelin, the somewhat maverick former finance minister who is one of the most economically liberal voices in France. Mexico has proposed Angel Gurria, its finance minister between 1998 and 2000.

In an interview earlier this year, Donald Johnston, the OECD's outgoing secretary-general, said it would be "very healthy" for the organisation if his successor came from an Asian member.

However Japan, the second biggest contributor to the OECD, has struggled to find a candidate heavyweight enough to command universal support. It has proposed Sawako Takeuchi, an academic and former adviser to the prime minister. Although well-qualified, Han Seung-soo, the South Korean nominee, seems unlikely to win sufficient backing from the bigger member countries.

Allan Fels of Australia has a long and successful record running large organisations as a regulator in Australia.

Yesterday, most delegations of member governments to the OECD were keeping their cards close to their chest.

Having championed transparency in corporate governance, the OECD is hoping the process will not degenerate into the usual horse-trading that occurs in the selection of leaders of international organisations.