Spain's Guindos Looks Hard to Beat in ECB Vice Presidency Bid

(Bloomberg) -- The European Central Bank’s second-highest post is Spain’s to lose, a Bloomberg survey of euro-area governments indicates.

Portugal, Malta, Slovakia and Latvia already have said they intend to support Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos over Irish central bank governor Philip Lane to be the next vice president of the ECB. Officials from Lithuania, Austria, Cyprus and Finland told Bloomberg they are leaning toward supporting Guindos. 

While Ireland says support for its candidate “is building,” none of the currency bloc’s remaining governments signaled an intention to vote for Lane, declining to comment when asked by Bloomberg.

Countries can still change their minds before the euro-area finance ministers decide on the matter at a meeting on Feb. 19 in Brussels. Heavyweights including Italy are refusing to show their cards, and informal hearings for the candidates at the European Parliament on Wednesday could yet shift the mood.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire “has always made clear that Guindos has excellent qualities,” a French government official said. A German government official said that Ireland has hardly lobbied at all for its candidate and that Dublin’s intention may be to push instead for the ECB chief economist job when Peter Praet’s term expires next year.

While the European Parliament will quiz Guindos and Lane on Wednesday in Brussels, the assembly has no power to block the appointment. The final decision is taken by an enhanced majority of the euro area’s 19 national governments.

Spain's Guindos Looks Hard to Beat in ECB Vice Presidency Bid

Finland will officially decide which candidate it will support on Friday, Finance Minister Petteri Orpo said in a message relayed by his spokesman, adding that Guindos’s experience makes him a strong candidate. Spain has grounds for increasing its representation in European institutions, he added.

Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe “is fully supportive of Governor Lane’s nomination to the VP position in the ECB and is confident that there is solid support for Ireland’s candidate, which is building,” Ireland’s Finance Ministry said in an emailed statement. “We will continue to outline Philip’s qualities and his exemplary track record to all member states who will have a vote, across the coming days.”

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