UN Security Council: António Gutérres ‘clear favourite’ in Secretary-General race

Portugal’s António Gutérres is the “clear favourite” in the race to be the next United Nations Secretary-General, Russian ambassador to the UN and the Security Council’s current president, Vitaly Churkin, told reporters on October 5.

The announcement came after the sixth “straw poll” among the 15 members of the Security Council.

Churkin, flanked by all the other permanent representatives of the members of the Security Council, said that a formal vote to nominate Gutérres would be held on October 6. It was hoped that the vote to nominate Gutérres would be by acclamation, Churkin said.

The formal vote is expected to be held at 10am New York time on October 6 (5pm in Sofia).

Procedurally, the Security Council recommends a Secretary-General candidate for approval by the UN General Assembly.

Gutérres, formerly prime minister of Portugal and a former head of the UN High Commission for Refugees, got the most votes in all five previous “straw polls” by the Security Council. His October 5 performance was his strongest yet.

The “clear favourite” status of António Gutérres appeared to squelch the hopes for Bulgaria’s candidate to be the next UN Secretary-General, Kristalina Georgieva, a late entrant in the race after the government in Sofia dumped Irina Bokova over Bokova’s lacklustre performance in the straw polls.

Though Georgieva is Bulgaria’s official candidate in the race, Bokova said that she remained a candidate. UN rules do not make provision for a country to withdraw its candidate. This has to be done by the candidate, which Bokova refused to do, remaining in the race as an individual.

Georgieva’s hearing by the UN General Assembly on her candidacy was as recent as October 3, following her September 26 nomination by Bulgaria’s government.

Georgieva could not have made it further – she got only five “encourage” votes, including two from permanent members of the Security Council; eight “discourage” votes, including two from Security Council permanent members – an effective veto; and two “no opinion” votes, including one from a Security Council member.

Gutérres is understood to have received 13 “encourage” votes in the October 5 ballot, four of these from the five permanent members of the Security Council. He got two “no opinion” votes, one from a permanent member of the council.

To have a strong chance, a candidate needed at least nine “encourage” votes – and no “discourage” votes from the veto-holding five permanent members of the Security Council.

The selection process is to choose a successor to Ban Ki-moon, whose term as UN Secretary-General ends at the end of 2016.




Clive Leviev-Sawyer

Clive Leviev-Sawyer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe. He is the author of the book Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century (Riva Publishers, 2015), and co-author of the book Bulgarian Jews: Living History (The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria 'Shalom', 2018). He is also the author of Power: A Political Novel, available via amazon.com, and, on the lighter side, Whiskers And Other Short Tales of Cats (2021), also available via Amazon. He has translated books and numerous texts from Bulgarian into English.