The leading female contender to be chosen as Europe’s first president challenged her male rivals to an open contest on Tuesday, and criticized the secretive carve-up of the EU’s top job, the Times of London reported.

Known as VVF, the formidable Vaira Vike-Freiberga is furious at the suggestion that there are no suitably qualified women to run the EU — and at the squalid selection process taking place behind the scenes, the paper reported.

Twice President of Latvia, she is one of the few openly declared candidates for the EU presidency and is well equipped to become the face of Europe among a field of grey men.

Her remarkable early life, fleeing across Europe from the front lines of the Second World War, was followed by a distinguished academic career and eight years as President, steering Latvia into the EU and NATO, the paper reported.

As male politicians continue to dominate speculation in Brussels, it is the suggestion of tokenism that frustrates her the most.

“Those people who say that should wash their mouths out with soap,” Vike-Freiberga told the Times of London.

“As far as I am concerned they are voicing the deepest and most objectionable prejudice against women. They are saying that we do not have qualified women around and I resent that."

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