Former banker elected Latvian president

09:25, June 03, 2011      

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Former Prime Minister Andris Berzins (L) talks to a member of parliament before the presidential elections in Riga, Latvia, June 2, 2011. (Xinhua/Guo Qun)

Former banker Andris Berzins was elected president of Latvia by the country's 100-seat parliament on Thursday, defeating incumbent President Valdis Zatlers.

Berzins secured 53 votes in the second round of voting, two more than the minimum 51 required for victory. He was set to become the fourth Latvian president since the Baltic nation's independence in 1991.

In the first round, Berzins received 50 votes, seven more than Zatlers, whose term expires July 7.

According to Latvian law, the parliament elects the president, and a candidate needs more than 50 votes to win. The president is allowed to serve at most two terms.

Berzins, 66, served as president of Unibank of Latvia and is currently a lawmaker for Union of Greens and Farmers, a political alliance that is part of the ruling coalition.

Zatlers, 56, had been widely expected to win a second term, but the odds changed when he proposed late last week to dissolve the parliament for its contempt of the judiciary, despite the already set schedule of the presidential election.

The Latvian Central Election Commission decided Monday to hold a referendum on July 23 on Zatlers' motion. The process will not be affected by the election of a different president.

Source: Xinhua

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