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14 February 2019

Bloomberg: The two Finns fighting to replace Mario Draghi

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Erkki Liikanen and Olli Rehn are both candidates for the position of ECB chief. Finland could offer a compromise contender to Germany and France.

The Nordic twist to a Byzantine story on the race for the European Central Bank presidency centers on the scenario of a Finn compromise candidate. In a potential impasse between Germany and France on the European Union’s top jobs, Finland is positioned as a handy alternative from Northern Europe, whose turn it is to get the prize.

Two of the five leading candidates eyed by economists for the ECB are Finns, each hailing from different political parties competing in the country’s elections in April. Erkki Liikanen, 68, served on the Governing Council for 14 years as Finnish central-bank governor and has been one of Draghi’s most trusted confidants. His successor, Olli Rehn, 56, earned his credentials as an EU Commissioner during the region’s debt crisis. Only one can get the job.

“Who that is, Rehn or Liikanen, will probably only be known after the Finnish parliamentary elections,” says Nicolas Veron, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “Finland is a consensus-driven country, so I don’t expect one of the two to run a campaign against the other.”

Veron expects one to step aside for his fellow countryman, who could then quite possibly win the role. He sees a good chance the ECB job will go to a Finn in an EU compromise.

Germany’s candidate to replace him is probably Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann. France can choose between ECB Executive Board member Benoit Coeure and Francois Villeroy de Galhau, governor of the national central bank, who are both vying for the job.

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© Bloomberg

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