Atónio Guterres becomes the front-runner in the campaign to succeed Ban Ki-moon as the U.N.’s ninth secretary-general after the first ballot on Thursday. A former Portuguese prime minister had served as U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees for 10 years.
In the vote he was followed by former Slovenian President Danilo Turk. Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, director-general of U.N. cultural organization UNESCO came in third, while former Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic and former Macedonian Foreign Minister Srgjan Kerim were fourth.
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, who was one of the favorites at the beginning, became fifth on the shortlist of 12 following the first straw poll conducted by members of the UN Security Council.
So now it is very unlikely that a woman might lead the United Nations for the first time in its history after Ban Ki-moon steps down at the end of 2016 after two five-year terms.
Thursday’s vote was designed to narrow the slate of 12 candidates vying for the top U.N. job, and provide council members with some clarity on which aspirants stood a chance of securing sufficient support to continue.
Ultimately, the five nations that hold a veto on the Security Council – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China – have to agree on a candidate and there is no requirement for them to pay attention to the popularity of candidates with the General Assembly.
The council hopes to agree on a candidate by October, diplomats say.