Security Council votes unanimously to increase humanitarian aid in Syria. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

The Security Council Holds Yet Another Poll to Decide Who Will Become the Next Secretary General

Updates with results, below

The third informal straw poll by the Security Council to pick the next Secretary General of the United Nations happens later today.  This will be an important inflection point in deciding who will lead the world body when Ban Ki Moon’s term expires at the end of this year.

There are currently 10 candidates. (There were 12, but two have since dropped out: Vesna Pusic and Igor Luksic.) Each of the 15 members of the Security Council will indicate in a secret ballot whether they “encourage,” “discourage,” or have no “opinion” on the candidacy of each of the candidates. These straw polls are intended to winnow the field before a formal vote is taken. At a later date — perhaps for the fourth straw poll — color coded ballots will be introduced to indicate the preferences of a veto wielding member of the Security Council. (If a candidate receives a “discourage” vote from one of the five veto wielding members, it could mean their candidacy is sunk.)

Here were the results from the previous straw polls, helpfully compiled by The Security Council Report 

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Former High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, former Slovenian President Danilo Turk and Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremic were the frontrunners going into this round of voting.  If these candidates can maintain a low number of “discourage” votes, it would bode well for their prospects going forward. On the other hand if high profile candidates like Helen Clark and Christina Figueres continue to receive more than 7 “discourage” votes, it probably means their candidacy is over. That’s because when it comes to a formal vote, any single candidate must receive at least nine affirmative votes and no vetoes.

I’ll update this post as soon as the results of the third straw poll are in.


Here are the results, courtesy of Sherwin Bryce-Pease of the South African Broadcasting Corporation

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The big takeaways:

-Antonio Guterres is still the clear front runner. But the fact that his “discourage” votes has increased from 2 to 3 means that there is a greater likelihood that one of the veto wielding members of the council is lining up against his candidacy.

-Miroslav Lajcak, the Slovakian foreign minister has shot up to number 2 in the polls, displacing Danilo Turk.

-Unesco Chief Irina Bokova’s chances improved significantly, having gone from 7 “discourage” votes to “5.” She is the highest scoring female candidate.

-Christiana Figueres and Natalie Gherman are both probably out. 12 “discourage” votes is probably too big a hurdle to clear

-Helen Clark is still faring poorly. At 8 discourage votes, she would not even have the requisite number of 9 affirmative votes to pass in the Security Council. But she has little incentive to drop out of the race at this point, before the color coded ballots are introduced.