Support may be building for Helen Clark’s bid to head the United Nations as John Key talks up her prospects of emerging the compromise candidate.
Clark has long been considered a frontrunner for the job based on her credentials, and shored up that position after being widely rated the winner of a debate with other contenders last week.
To win Clark has to overcome three critical hurdles – a prevailing view that it’s Eastern Europe’s “turn” to lead the UN; winning the backing of all five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the P5), any of which can veto a candidate in order to promote their own pick and, finally, the winning candidate won’t necessarily be chosen on merit, but on the basis of horse-trading between the so-called P5.
It is hard to see why Russia would support a candidate not from Eastern Europe, and it has a veto. Clark’s chances are based on that no Eastern European candidate is acceptable.
At present she is second with the bookies, with Bokova still deemed most likely.
But Clark now faces another potential obstacle — former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has finally been forced into the open as a potential contender, after denying for months that he wanted the job.
The country’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, confirmed on Monday the new Australian Cabinet would consider whether to nominate Rudd this week.
Rudd also believes he can be the compromise candidate, and is said to have been on the international circuit for months lobbying governments for their backing on that basis.
Australia would have to renege on a previous deal to back Clark if it nominates Rudd – former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott promised his support for Clark’s candidacy and even gave Key a letter promising her Australia’s backing.
But that’s not Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s biggest headache – Rudd is widely disliked in Australian politics, with fellow politicians, and media, lining up to lambast his bid.
One Australian politician labelled him “dysfunctional”, “vengeful”, “unstable” and “megalomaniac”, while another made the comment “Kevin’s ego makes Donald Trump’s look like a rounding error”.
Even the fiercely parochial Australian media are urging Turnbull to back Clark over Rudd.
Normally a country would automatically back one of their own, and especially a former PM, for any international role. But it speaks volumes about Rudd that so many are hesitant.