The International Monetary Fund’s executive board will meet later on Tuesday to try to decide who will succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn as its managing director.
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is the favourite to take over from Strauss-Kahn, who resigned in May after being arrested for alleged sexual assault in New York.
The 55-year-old former corporate lawyer has the backing of European members, which hold nearly a third of the board’s 24 seats, Russia and China.
The US has praised both Lagarde and her rival Mexican central bank governor Agustin Carstens.
Carstens, a former IMF official, argues Europe’s six-decade monopoly on the job should end to give emerging markets a bigger say in how the Fund is run.
He has the support of Latin America, Canada and Australia but emerging economies have failed to unite behind his bid.
India, South Africa and Brazil have been quiet on who their preferred candidate would be.
According to an unwritten convention dating back to the IMF’s creation after World War Two, the fund has always been run by a European, while its sister institution the World Bank has always been led by an American.
Washington is likely to back Lagarde’s candidacy in return for Europe’s support to keep America’s hold on the World Bank position.