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Pranab Mukherjee Elected President Of India

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee of the ruling Congress party is India’s new president.

He was declared the winner today after the votes of national and state legislators were counted following Thursday’s balloting. Mukherjee received more than twice as many votes as his rival, Purno Agitok Sangma, according to AP.

Mukherjee, 76, will be sworn to office on Wednesday. He will succeed India’s first female president, Pratibha Devisingh Patil.

Similar to many countries operating under a parliamentary system, the presidency of India is generally more of a figurehead position. The prime minister (currently Manmohan Singh) is India’s chief executive.

Mukherjee, Indian’s 13th president, has had a long career in national government, including serving as foreign minister, defense minister, and most recently finance minister.

“I am very happy. I thank everybody for their love and support. I thank all the people of my country,” Mukherjee said on a news channel, Yahoo! News reports. He added that “I will strive to live up to the expectations and faith that people have bestowed on me.”

According to NDTV.com, Mukherjee’s term may not be entirely ceremonial:

The President is also likely to have a huge imprint on the political future of the country in 2014, when the general elections are expected to yield a hung Parliament. The President could then have a casting vote to decide who should come to power. He also has the right to dissolve a deeply-fractured Parliament, if that’s what the results deliver.

A hung parliament means that no one party or coalition has enough votes for majority rule.

[Image credit: World Economic Forum]