A Soviet dissident with Jewish roots was elected Monday as Latvia’s president.

A majority of 61 lawmakers out of 100 in the Latvian parliament elected Egils Levits, 63, to the post, which is a largely ceremonial role that consists of some executive capabilities, even though Cabinet runs the Balkan country.

Levits and his family left what is now Latvia, when it was part of the Soviet Union, and immigrated to Germany in 1972.

In an interview last month, he said that his father—an engineer by trade—and not his mother was Jewish.

“I was born in a mixed family, like many Latvians. All my father’s relatives were killed in the Holocaust, and my mother and my grandmother were sent away on March 25,” he said, referring to Soviets deporting dissidents on that date in 1949. “In this respect, my family reflects the history of Latvia.”