“There are two main motivations for national leaders when nominating candidates for high positions in international organisations. Either send away a politician who could be a domestic opponent – for example Nicolas Sarkozy nominating Dominique Strauss-Kahn for the IMF – or choose someone with a low enough profile not to cause problems back home.

The latter was the case in autumn 2009 when, post ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Union needed a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (aka the EU’s foreign minister).”

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