Lagarde Trails Prior ECB Presidents in Winning Over EU Lawmakers
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Christine Lagarde’s performance during more than two hours of questioning by European lawmakers this week left a noticeable minority of them unconvinced.
Eleven members of Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee opposed the Frenchwoman’s nomination as European Central Bank president. That’s about a fifth of the panel, far more than the number that disapproved of Lagarde’s predecessors Mario Draghi, Jean-Claude Trichet and Wim Duisenberg.
Lagarde’s candidacy still passed with a resounding majority, backed by 37 lawmakers. The dissent may reflect increased public skepticism toward central bankers: much of her appointment hearing was spent discussing the need for more monetary stimulus at a time of opposition to negative interest rates and asset purchases in many parts of Europe.
Earlier in the appointment process, the ECB’s Governing Council wasn’t unanimous either. Its secret ballot threw up two objections and an abstention, according to people familiar with the matter. The votes for Lagarde’s predecessors have never been revealed.
European Union leaders picked the 63-year-old in early July, in a surprise choice. The first female ECB chief, she is also the first person to clinch the job without having run a central bank or having an academic background in economics. Her pedigree rests on her crisis fighting as a former French finance minister and managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
The next step is a vote of the full plenary of the European Parliament. The legislature only has a consultative role and can’t block such appointments. Leaders then need to give a final rubber stamp before she starts her new job on Nov. 1.
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