Red faces as regions chief loses election, stands down

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Italian socialist politician Mercedes Bresso, recently elected the first female president of the Committee of the Regions, will have to quit less than two months into the job after losing a regional election in Italy yesterday (29 March).

In February, Bresso was elected Committee of the Regions (CoR) president to considerable fanfare (EURACTIV 11/02/10), primarily because she was the first woman to hold the post.

However, her mandate has been cut short, much to the embarrassment of both herself and the EU institution she has led for less than two months.

After losing an excruciatingly tight election battle with right-wing Lega Nord candidate Robert Cota, the Italian socialist will lose her mandate as a CoR member and is forced to stand down as president.

A CoR source told EURACTIV that she will remain president until the results are made official, which is likely to be at the end of April.

Bresso will therefore still preside over the CoR's April plenary session.

Bresso's defeat will trigger a new election for the office of CoR president, though it remains unclear when this ballot will take place.

Until the new election, current rules indicate that the interim CoR president is likely to be the institution's first vice-president, Ramon Luis Valcárcel Siso of Spain.

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) is the EU's assembly of local and regional representatives, and as one of the EU institutions, provides sub-national authorities with a direct voice in Brussels.

Mercedes Bresso is the first woman to preside the regional assembly since its creation in 1994 and one of only a handful of women politicians to have presided over an official EU institution.

Bresso last week conducted an interview with EURACTIV France where she outlined her hopes for the future of EU regional policy.

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