Portugal’s former premier Antonio Guterres, Slovenia’s Danilo Turk and Bulgaria’s Irina Bokova have emerged as the frontrunners to succeed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after the first straw poll involving 12 candidates, half of them women.
After the secret balloting, Ambassador Koro Bessho of Japan, which holds the UNSC’s presidency for July, yesterday said “each candidate would be informed of the results through his or her country’s permanent representative to the UN.”
The straw poll followed a series of closed-door meetings in which each of the 12 candidates, who have been nominated by their governments, was introduced to the Council members.
After the straw poll, former Portuguese prime minister Guterres, who served as UN High Commissioner for Refugees for 10 years, emerged as the frontrunner, according to diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Guterres was followed by Slovenia’s former president Danilo Turk and Bulgaria’s Irina Bokova, who serves as UNESCO Director-General.
Bessho said the straw poll is “an indicative vote – to inform the candidates where they stand in the race, and to inform the Council members how the race might go from here.”
The current Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, is the eighth occupant of the post in the Organisation’s 70-year history. He took office in January 2007 and will be ending his 10-year tenure on December 31, 2016.
Under the UN Charter, the Organisation’s top official is appointed by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Council.
The election process for UN Secretary General has been unprecedented this year with the General Assembly taking a more active role in the selection process, aiming to make it more transparent and inclusive.
For the first time in history, the candidates were asked to submit their resumes and to take part in informal briefings with the Assembly.
Along with the informal hearings, the UN last Tuesday held its first-ever globally televised and webcast townhall- style debate in the General Assembly Hall, where 10 of the 12 confirmed candidates took questions from diplomats and the public at large.
The two candidates unable to come to New York were invited to send video messages to be used in the event. Bessho said this is the first time the Council had held such informal meetings with each of the candidates. As for the date for the second round of the poll, he said no decision has been made.
There is no definitive deadline for announcing candidacy, but anyone considering throwing the hat in the ring should come forward as soon as possible, he added.
Since 1946, the Council has discussed and voted behind closed doors in straw polls for members to “encourage” or “discourage” a candidate to continue.
These straw polls continue until there is a majority candidate without a single veto from a permanent member. That name is then officially transferred to the Assembly, whose membership historically chooses the candidate.