20 SEP 2010
By Paul Taylor
(Reuters) - Should a man who publicly opposed the European Central Bank's most difficult decision in the heat of the euro zone crisis, breaking ranks with its leader, succeed Jean-Claude Trichet as ECB president next year?
That is the decision European Union leaders will have to make unanimously within the next nine months.
German Bundesbank president Axel Weber, 53, an outspoken inflation "hawk," is frontrunner to take the reins of the bank that manages the world's number two reserve currency, shared by 16 European countries, when Trichet's term ends in late 2011.
But his public dissent from the ECB governing council's May decision to buy euro zone government bonds as an emergency measure to stabilize the bond market, which helped stop a rout of weaker member states' debt, has riled several governments.
"There certainly is quite some dissatisfaction," said a senior European source involved in the financial rescue. "Weber is a recidivist. He repeated the same mistake. He is probably still the frontrunner but no longer as strong or self-evident."
Weber's criticism of the bond-buying decision as potentially inflationary was a shock for a young central bank which, unlike the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of England, does not publish minutes of its rate-setting meetings or voting records.
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