The Board of Governors, the highest decision-making body of the IMF, consists of one governor and one alternate governor for each member country. The governor is appointed by the member country and is usually the minister of finance or the governor of the central bank. All powers of the IMF are vested in the Board of Governors. The Board of Governors may delegate to the Executive Board all except certain reserved powers. The Board of Governors normally meets once a year.

The table below shows quota and voting shares for IMF members. Following the entry into force of the Board Reform Amendment on January 26, 2016, members who have consented to their quota increases can pay their quota increases under the 14th General Review of Quotas. Quota and voting shares will change as members pay their quota increases. During this process, this table will be updated regularly (see here for more details on the Quota and Governance reforms agreed in 2010.)

The bolded part seems to suggest the vote increase only happens if the Board approves it, but why does the Board have to approve it, and why don't they let countries increase their vote shares by injecting money into the institution? Is there an official reason for this? It seems undemocratic to me.

  • 1
    " why don't they let countries increase their vote shares by injecting money into the institution?" This would correspond to how governance works for a publicly traded company, but that wouldn't be democratic at all. Giving countries voting power based on their population would be democratic, but that's not going to happen either ;)
    – Erwan
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 12:20
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    Nothing about IMF is democratic to begin with. Any form of voting not, at least indirectly, based on universal suffrage is inherently undemocratic. For supranational entity to be able to lay any claim to legitimacy, votes need to be split based on adult population of member countries.
    – M i ech
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 12:32
  • "It seems undemocratic to me" No, it is democratic. Giving voters the ability to increase their voting power proportionate to their money is plutocratic, which is anti-Democratic. The ability to buy more voting power is... trivially anti-Democratic.
    – John
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 18:31

1 Answer 1


The wiki article quotes that voting requires serious approval:

Changes in the voting shares require approval by a super-majority of 85% of voting power

That leads to inflexibility of the change in voting power. That article quotes paper by Phillip Y. Lipscy which includes this:

However, the de facto process for redistributing shares involves a highly politicized bargaining process...While specific formulas are used as loose guidelines for calculating subscription shares, the formulas themselves have been the subject of much wrangling. In fact, the Bretton Woods formulas have been adjusted ex post facto to produce results consistent with politically determined bargaining outcomes

As I read it, the voting system of IMF is set up to look democratic, but in reality it is driven by political decisions behind the scenes.

Another authors note that change in voting share might not change how IMF is run:

Currently, the non-OECD countries are not using the voice or vote that they already have within the IMF. Rather, they generally go along with decisions made by the U.S. and its allies. By contrast, in the World Trade Organization (WTO), which was formed in 1995, developing countries have challenged the rich countries on a number of important policy issues, including public health, drug patents and access to essential medicines, and agriculture and development policy

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