Kristalina Georgieva

Kristalina’s power concentration is divided. Even though she heads the IMF and exercises a vast degree of both agency and control.  Multiple institutional factors, mainly the articles of association of the IMF, Board of Governors and the executive board act as checks and balances, preventing her from having sovereign decision-making powers. The impeachment process of the IMF prevents her from being too secure in her position. Further, the USA major voting bloc as well as the strong EU lobbying both in the IMF and during her election add to the control dynamics.  

Main threats to Kristalina’s Political Power

Hierarchy is one of the main threats to Kristalina’s power. She is the flagbearer of many firsts in terms of  (1) being a woman (2) the changing the age criteria of the IMF for her election and (3) her being the first IMF leader from an Eastern European country. Moreover, she also bears the burden of appeasement to French President Emmanuel Macron due to this championing of her candidacy for the IMF which in turn translates to liberal policymaking in favour of the European Union bloc. 

Many major decisions by the IMF require supermajorities of either 85 per cent or 70 per cent of its membership. Certain decisions require 85 per cent of member agreement by voting share. These often pertain to the adjustment of quotas, compulsory withdrawal of member nations (effectively expulsion), or amendments to the IMF’s Articles of Agreement;  the United States enjoys effective veto power here.

Therefore, any decision that Kristalina takes that might hinder US policy will be vetoed. Thus, regardless of her agenda termed as brave and her sympathy for developing countries, Kristalina’s policies align with European standards of neutrality. She, like the bloc she stands for, is left-wing and neo-liberal.

The way Kristalina deals with threats

Kristalina is a constraint respecter on personal policies. For example, she asks the USA and China to mend relationships but treads carefully by not requesting drastic measures.  She analysed the implications of the U.S.-China trade war that has the potential to wipe out a portion of the global economy- the size of Switzerland by next year.  This remained a warning and no steps were seen in her promised brave agenda to take measures to ease out tensions. 

In fact, the IMF and the USA partnership grew further owing to the majority voting bloc position the United States enjoys. She does try to, however, push for policies that she holds personally important such as gender gap issues and climate change. The world she was handed after her position as IMF Managing Director was one at the brink of an economic recession and thus, her words hold more importance in the press. She, therefore, utilizes her power to neutralize threats using media and press realises rather than policy action. 

Aashna Gadia

Research & Analysis Alumna