Europe backs French finance minister Lagarde as next IMF chief

With developing countries including India – clamouring for more representation in multilateral lending bodies – nowhere near finding a common candidate to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn as the International Monetary Fund's managing director, Europe has been quick to move in.

The most likely successor for Strauss-Khan - who had to quit in a cloud of sexual assault charges and today moves from  to house arrest – is France's finance minister Christine Lagarde.

India, never agile in its footwork on international issues, seems completely out of the picture at the moment. Some media commentators have suggested former IMF chief economist Raghuram Rajan as a potential candidate; but the government has so far been deafeningly silent on the whole issue.

Meanwhile, keen to hang on to their traditional 'portfolio', European nations have largely united behind Lagarde. For the last 65 years, the post of IMF managing director has been held by a European, while the head of the World Bank has been an American.

Lagarde, 55, declined to comment on her potential candidacy when questioned by reporters in Paris on Thursday. But she did insist that the successor to Strauss-Kahn should come from Europe.

Meanwhile, the IMF is continuing business as usual under acting managing director John Lipsky.