Poet Michael Higgins wins Irish presidency

Newly-elected Irish President Michael Higgins (center) and his wife Sabina celebrate with family members Michael (left), Alice Mary (2nd left) and John (right) during the official announcement of the presidential election's results, at Dublin Castle in Dublin, October 29, 2011. PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images

DUBLIN - Irish electoral officials say veteran left-wing politician Michael D. Higgins has won the presidential election with a total 56.8 percent share of votes.

Saturday's result capped a two-day count of ballots to determine who would succeed Mary McAleese as Ireland's ceremonial head of state.

Higgins' victory was assured after partial results Friday gave him an unassailable lead versus six other candidates, who conceded defeat.

The 70-year-old Higgins has dedicated his political career to championing Irish culture and left-wing human rights causes worldwide.

He is a senior figure of Labour, the junior party in Ireland's coalition government. He also is a published poet.

Entrepreneur and reality TV judge Sean Gallagher came second, former IRA commander Martin McGuinness third.

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