The Latvian parliament, the Saeima, chose a new State President May 29 in a special session, reports..

Following two hours of debate a vote was held which saw Egils Levits confirmed as the next head of state.

Levits secured the backing of 61 deputies with 32 opposed in the first round of voting, giving him a clear victory over rivals Didzis Šmits (24 for, 69 opposed) and Juris Jansons (8 for, 85 opposed). 

It was the first time the president of State is elected in open ballot a fact that resulted in a quicker and more transparent result than the previous secret ballot system. 

Speaking to Saeima immediately after the vote, Levits vowed "I will be a president of all Latvia's people" and "all Latvian citizens" regardless of their ethnicity of creed and whether they live in Latvia itself or in "the wider world" as part of the diaspora.