Latvia’s parliament has picked the country’s new president, a political novice who is no stranger to controversy. Valdis Zatlers was backed by the ruling coalition, winning 58 of the 98 ballots cast. A leading surgeon, he has admitted accepting undeclared cash payments from patients. His supporters say the practice is common in Latvia and does not mean he is corrupt.
He will replace eastern Europe’s first female president, the highly popular Vaira Vike-Freiberga. The president in Latvia has limited but important legislative powers and is a key voice for the country abroad.