The UN Security Council held its fifth round of straw polls on 26 September to determine which candidate it will put forward to replace Ban Ki-moon as the next Secretary-General. While the Security Council has maintained its policy of not releasing the results, they have been publicised on Twitter after every poll.
In the latest round, former Prime Minister of Portugal and former head of the UN Refugee Agency, Antόnio Guterres, maintained his lead for the fifth time running with 12 “encourage”, two “discourage” and one “no opinion” vote, the same numbers as in the fourth poll. This makes him the only candidate receiving more than nine “encourage” votes which, if translated into affirmative votes, are necessary for the Council to recommend a candidate or candidates if the Council were to hold a formal vote. Although Serbia’s Vuk Jeremić received two more “discourage” votes and lost one “encourage “vote, he rose to second position followed by Miroslav Lajčák (Slovak Republic) who lost two “encourage” votes and received two more “discourage” votes.
The fifth round saw Susana Malcorra (Argentina) maintaining the same number of votes as in the last three polls but rising to fourth position, shared with Danilo Türk from Slovenia, both receiving seven “encourage” and seven “discourage” votes with one “no opinion”. Bulgaria’s Irina Bokova came in sixth place, weakening her position by receiving one less “encourage” vote and two more “discourage” votes. Srgjan Kerim (FYROM) dropped to seventh place, a position shared with Helen Clark (New Zealand) both receiving six “encourage” votes and nine “discourage” votes. Natalia Gherman continued to receive the lowest score with three "encourages" and 11 “discourages”, as she did last time.
The Council’s decision to recommend a candidate as Secretary-General to the General Assembly is considered a matter of substance requiring an affirmative vote of nine members, with its permanent five members concurring, i.e. not exercising their power to veto. In the latest round, only Guterres reached a number of votes sufficient to be translated in the required number of affirmative votes.
All candidates received “discourage” votes, with Guterres receiving the lowest number: two. It is not known whether any of the ‘discourage’ votes are from veto-carrying members. This will become clearer on 5 October, when the Council, with Russia as Council President, is expected to hold its first colour-coded straw poll. That poll will show whether or not there is agreement among the veto carrying members, as the vote will distinguish between them and the ten non-veto-carrying members. However, the identity of a "Permanent Five" Council member casting a “discourage” vote will not be known unless the country in question identifies itself. It is important to note that the straw polls carried out so far are not official Council votes and that the use of the “veto” in coloured straw polls has not prevented a candidate from becoming Secretary-General in the past.
After one or more colour-coded straw polls, the Security Council will proceed to vote in a resolution recommending one (or more) candidate(s) to the General Assembly. The Assembly will then appoint the next Secretary-General in a resolution, the contents of which the Assembly started to discuss in a debate of 29 September, including the option of a longer, single term.