Bank of Finland chief Olli Rehn has withdrawn from the race to be the EU's pick for leading the IMF, a French finance ministry official said Friday, leaving just two candidates in contention.
Rehn's departure from the vote of EU ministers called by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire leaves just former Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem and Bulgarian Kristalina Georgieva, the current number two at the World Bank, left in the race.
A second round of voting is now underway to choose between Dijsselbloem and Georgieva, the French ministry official said.
The choice of the candidate to lead the International Monetary Fund (IMF), who by convention is a European, had exposed deep divisions within the EU and forced Le Maire to call a vote.
Southern countries chafe at the prospect of seeing Dijsselbloem in the post because of his tough stance against nations like Greece when he headed the group of EU finance ministers.
Writing on his Twitter account, Rehn confirmed he was pulling out to find a unity candidate for the "exceptionally meaningful and motivating job." "I withdraw my name from the ballot, so that we can achieve a broad-based consensus for the European candidate, and world-wide support," he wrote.