The National Assembly elected Katalin Novák (pictured) as Hungary’s new head of state in the morning session of Parliament yesterday.
Hungary’s president is chosen by Members of Parliament in the 199-seat chamber. If none of the candidates gets two-thirds of the vote in the first round, the top two candidates face each other in a runoff election for a simple majority of votes in the second round.
Novák, the candidate for Fidesz-KDNP, won the election in the first round of voting with 137 votes. Her challenger, Péter Róna, the candidate for the opposition bloc United for Hungary, received 51 votes from MPs.
As Fidesz has a two-thirds majority in Parliament, it was expected that Novák would be elected in the first round.
But in addition to the 133 MPs in the Fidesz-KDNP parliamentary group, four other members also voted for Novák. As the ballot was secret, it is not known where those other votes came from.
Novák, a former minister without portfolio responsible for families and previously state secretary for family and youth, said in her nominating speech to members that as president, she would visit far-flung places such as gypsy settlements at the edge of small towns in the country.
By nominating Katalin Novák as head of state, Fidesz pulled an unexpected move. The country’s first female president, Szeged native Novák has degrees in economics and law, and speaks French, German, English, and Spanish. At 44, she is also the country’s youngest head of state since the change of regime in 1989.