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The Estonian parliament elected Alar Karis as the country’s new president after a second ballot.

MPs had rejected Karis’ nomination just a day earlier because he had failed to secure the necessary two-thirds support.

But the director of the Estonian National Museum on Tuesday won the votes of 72 members of the 101-seat Riigikogu after a second vote. Eight lawmakers voted blank and the rest abstained or were absent.

Karis was the only candidate in both rounds and will succeed Kersti Kaljulaid, Estonia’s first woman president.

Kaljulaid was unable to run for another five-year term because she failed to secure a minimum of 21 lawmakers to nominate her.

“I thank everyone who voted for me and also those who did not, I promise to be a good partner for the Riigikogu,” Karis said in a short speech after the announcement of the count.

The former auditor and university leader was favored for this role by the ruling coalition of Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.

Karis will take office on October 11, according to initial government information.

He will be Estonia’s fifth president after the country regains its independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Originally from Tartu, Estonia’s second largest city, he was a molecular geneticist and developmental biologist by training, before becoming a university professor and then directing the University of Tartu between 2007-2012. He had also been Auditor General of Estonia, between 2013 and 2018.

The role of the Estonian president is largely ceremonial, representing the nation abroad and acting as a national opinion leader, while the prime minister of the country holds the most power.

But the president has the power to veto laws, formally appoints government ministers and also serves as the supreme commander of the Estonian armed forces.

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euronews Gt

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