France's Christine Lagarde failed on Tuesday to win public backing from India for her bid to lead the IMF as she continued her global roadshow aimed at overcoming opposition in emerging countries.


 

"/> France's Christine Lagarde failed on Tuesday to win public backing from India for her bid to lead the IMF as she continued her global roadshow aimed at overcoming opposition in emerging countries.


 

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POLITICS

India fails to back Lagarde

 

France's Christine Lagarde failed on Tuesday to win public backing from India for her bid to lead the IMF as she continued her global roadshow aimed at overcoming opposition in emerging countries.


 

India fails to back Lagarde

The French finance minister, who has already travelled to Brazil to press her case, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee during a day of talks with the Indian leadership.

“I was not here seeking assurance or reassurance. I was here to present my candidacy,” she told reporters afterwards, adding it would have been “premature and arrogant” to expect India to back her.

New Delhi and other large emerging powers have been highly critical of Europe’s stranglehold on the managing director position at the Washington-based IMF, which has been filled by a European since its inception in 1944.

“The selection of the managing director of the IMF or that of the World Bank should be on the basis of merit, competence, and (be made) in a transparent manner,” Mukherjee said after Tuesday’s meetings.

Commentators had predicted before Lagarde’s arrival that India would be unlikely to back her, preferring instead to focus on trying to work with allies in the emerging world to form a consensus on their own candidate.

“She’ll be received warmly, but I’m not sure she will receive open Indian support,” Brahma Chellaney from the Centre for Policy Research think-tank in New Delhi had predicted in an interview with AFP on Monday.

Mukherjee said talks with Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa – the so-called BRICS bloc – were continuing.

“It’s not possible to say whether there will be a common candidate,” he said.

Lagarde, a 55-year-old former lawyer, has pledged to reform the IMF to give emerging and developing countries more power.

India has so far declined to publicly support any candidate in the race to fill the top job at the lender, which fell vacant with the resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn over allegations of sexual assault in New York last month.

In a New York court on Monday, the 62-year-old pleaded not guilty to the attempted rape of a hotel maid.

The only other serious contender, Mexico’s central bank chief Agustin Carstens, is to visit Canada on Tuesday and India on Friday on a tour that has already seen him stop off in Brazil and Argentina.

“He is also a competent person and we are going to have a discussion,” Mukherjee said.

The only possible Indian candidate for the job, 68-year-old Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who heads the government’s Planning Commission policy unit, was ruled out because he is over the IMF retirement age of 65.

“I think at this point India would like to see if the Mexican candidate is going to be a credible challenger. They’re hedging their bets safely and have sat on the fence,” Chellaney said.

Prime Minister Singh has conceded that changes to the IMF and other global institutions to reflect the rise of Asia and other emerging countries will take time, telling reporters last month that it would be a “long haul”.

Other Indian officials have stressed that the current voting rights for the IMF give Europe and the United States overwhelming influence and ability to force through their candidate as the next head.

Lagarde is due in China on Wednesday before heading on Friday to Lisbon, where African finance ministers and central bankers will be meeting for the African Development Bank’s annual gathering.

Chellaney said India was also watching China carefully.

Much could hinge on whether China unites with other BRICS nations rather than doing its own deal with Europe and the United States.

Some reports suggest China has agreed to back Lagarde in return for support for its own candidate as her number two.

The Times of India newspaper, quoting unnamed sources, said other Asians were also in the frame for the number two spot, such as Thai Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij and Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

POLITICS

Voting rights for foreigners in France back on political agenda

Foreigners living in France could get the right to vote in certain elections if a newly-created bill passes through parliament.

Voting rights for foreigners in France back on political agenda

The newly elected president of the National Assembly’s law commission calmly lobbed a 40-year-old electoral hand-grenade into the political discourse of the summer – and then went on holiday.

Sacha Houlié, MP for the Vienne and a member of Macron’s LREM party, filed a bill on Monday that would, if passed, allow non-EU citizens living in France to vote and stand for office in local elections. 

Under current electoral legislation, only French citizens can vote in presidential and parliamentary elections; EU citizens in France can vote in local and European elections; and non-EU citizens have no voting rights in France whatsoever. 

EU citizens can also stand for office in local elections, but are barred from becoming mayor or running for a seat in the Assembly.

Since Brexit, Britons in France have not been allowed to vote in local or  local office, any many Brits who were on their local councils had to resign because they were no longer EU citizens.

Many countries limit voting for their citizens who are out of the country, so non-EU citizens living in France often do not have the right to vote in any country.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and the far-right Rassemblement National wasted little time criticising Houlié’s bill.

Darminin’s entourage said that the minister was “firmly opposed” to the idea.

The far-right party went further. “We have crossed the limits of indecency and incomprehension of what the French are asking for,” Rassemblement national spokesperson Laurent Jacobelli told Franceinfo, echoing the sentiment of the party’s interim president Jordan Bardella, who insisted the passing of the bill would mark the, “final dispossession of the French from their country”.

Houlié said: “The right to vote for European Union nationals in local elections already exists in France. No one is surprised that a Spaniard or a Bulgarian can vote in municipal elections. But it has surprised many people that the British can no longer do it since Brexit.”

Given the current shape of the Parliament in France, it seems unlikely that the latest bill will pass. But it is far from the first time it has been on the table.

François Mitterrand had pledged during his presidential campaign in 1981 to ensure “the right to vote in municipal elections after five years of presence on French territory.”

But, in the face of opposition from the right, he backed down from this particular promise. 

In October 2004, Nicolas Sarkozy, then Minister of the Interior, tried to move forward with an electoral plan that would have allowed non-EU citizens certain voting rights – but was blocked by his own UMP party.

François Hollande re-launched the proposal during his 2012 campaign, before quietly letting it go in the face of opposition from both sides of the political spectrum.

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