Female President Elected in Latvia

The first woman president elected in post-communist Eastern Europe was sworn in as Latvia’s head of state. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, a 61-year-old psychology professor and former citizen of Montreal, will replace the current president, Guntis Ulmanis.

Latvia’s president serves as political spokesperson for the nation, as well as being a ceremonial figure. Yet, all political parties hold the position in the highest esteem. Vike-Freiberga was supported by members of the center-right, leftist and centrist parties, and was elected after several vicious debates in Parliament.

Vike-Freiberga plans to maintain neutrality in party politics, and fight for Latvia’s membership to the EU and NATO. At the ceremony she said, “Our aims are pretty clear, we have to reach economic prosperity. Social justice should reign.”


Reuters - July 8, 1999

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