Parliament confirms Socialist Berset as next Swiss president

GENEVA (AP) — The Swiss parliament has elected Alain Berset, a Socialist from a French-speaking region of western Switzerland, to become the Alpine country's president next year.

The 45-year-old native of Fribourg was widely expected to succeed outgoing President Doris Leuthard for the post, which rotates every year among the seven members of the Swiss executive body, the Federal Council. Berset is to take office on Jan. 1.

A combined session of Switzerland's two parliamentary chambers confirmed the election of Berset, currently vice-president and minister of home affairs, with a vote of 190 out of a total 210 valid ballots Wednesday.

In Switzerland's form of democracy, the president serves mainly as a "first among equals" in the Federal Council, and represents the country of about 8.2 million people abroad.