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Tag: Katalin Novák

Katalin Novák Signs Law Restricting Teachers’ Right to Strike

President Katalin Novák has signed the law restricting teachers’ right to strike, reports Magyar Hang.

The Teachers Union (PSZ) and Democratic Union of Teachers (PDSZ) asked Novák last Wednesday not to sign the law, but to ask for a preliminary check on norms instead.

The interest groups reminded the head of state that the Fundamental Law allows Hungary’s president to send a law or provision to the Constitutional Court for a preliminary check on norms if she feels it is unconstitutional. And since the right to strike is a fundamental right, the provisions of the Public Education Act restricting the possibility of striking would be suspicious at the very least in this regard.

Katalin Novák did not respond publicly nor informally to the teacher unions’ request. According to official website parlament.hu, she received an omnibus bill containing the amendment to the Public Education Act from Parliamentary Speaker László Kövér on May 25, the same day as the request from the teachers.

The President then signed the bill on May 26, which was announced that day in the Hungarian Gazette.

In a now-deleted 2010 blog post, Katalin Novák wrote that she was “grateful to fate… that we do not live on the ridiculous income that a hospital nurse or educator makes.” [Magyar Hang]

Romanian Foreign Ministry Up in Arms After Novák’s Visit to Transylvania

One of the state secretaries at the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs sought out Hungary’s ambassador in Bucharest to protest a Facebook post by President Katalin Novák over her private visit to Transylvania on Friday. The Hungarian head of state wrote that she had met with Hunor Kelemen, President of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania and Deputy Prime Minister of Romania.

The English part of Novák’s post stated:

Today I met with Hunor Kelemen, President of RMDSZ, Deputy Prime Minister of Romania. As the President of Hungary, I consider it my priority to represent all Hungarians, as it makes no difference to me whether someone lives inside or across the border. Hungarians are Hungarians, period.

The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, citing international law, claimed that no state can form any type of rights in relation to citizens of other counties. The state secretary for European affairs in the Romanian Foreign Ministry contacted the Hungarian Ambassador in Romania to convey the Romanian side’s concerns.

The ministry believes that the statement by President Novák does not meet European standards, nor is it in accordance with the spirit of the 1996 Hungarian-Romanian Treaty signed in Timișoara, or the Hungarian-Romanian 21st Century Strategic Partnership Statement, which was signed twenty years ago.

Romania continues to insist on developing pragmatic relations with Hungary for the benefit of Romanian and Hungarian citizens, regardless of their ethnicity. [Index]

Novák Tries to Win Over Poles by Condemning Putin’s Aggression on Warsaw Trip

Katalin Novák took her first trip as Hungarian head of state to Warsaw, delivering a speech in the Polish capital following her inauguration on Saturday. Unlike Viktor Orbán, she was able to say the Russian President’s name as she said that Hungary condemned Putin’s aggression. The new President held talks with her Polish counterpart, President Andrzej Duda, Sejm President Elżbieta Witek, and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

The main topic of discussion was the war in Ukraine, according to state-run television M1, who accompanied the President. The Hungarian head of state explained that Hungary would forever say no to any attempt to restore the Soviet Union, that we all have an interest in a long-term peace, and that we must stand up for innocent Ukrainians.

Novák also mentioned Putin’s aggression in her inauguration speech in Kossuth Square on Saturday, and posted about it on her Facebook page.

The post caused a great amount of disappointment to those who had become accustomed to the Russian propaganda echoed in Hungary over the last decade, with many commenters mentioning Putin’s friendship, Ukraine’s alleged war crimes, and the responsibility of NATO and the United States for the war.

The head of state also said in her speech on Saturday that her first official trip would be to Poland, in addition to talking about investigating war crimes, supporting Ukraine’s EU membership, and Hungary’s readiness to play a mediating role between Russia and Ukraine. [HVG]

Momentum: Katalin Novák is Unfit to Be President

The Momentum Movement considers Katalin Novák as an unsuitable candidate to embody the unity of the nation, and wants the head of state to be directly elected by voters.

In response to Katalin Novák’s inauguration as President of Hungary on Saturday, Momentum’s Márton Tompos wrote on Facebook:

A one-sided election by a two-thirds majority of the Fidesz Parliament gave her this position. Just half a year ago, she was still a member of Fidesz and a minister without portfolio in Viktor Orbán’s government.

A statement by the party added that “Momentum believes that Katalin Novák, like János Áder before her, is unfit to embody the unity of the nation.”

Momentum continues to prefer that the head of state be directly elected by voters, as the political opposition coalition stressed during the election campaign. The six-party opposition nominated economist Péter Róna as their candidate for head of state. [Index]

Katalin Novák Inaugurated as President, Condemns Russian Aggression in Speech

Katalin Novák was inaugurated as President of Hungary in Kossuth Square on Saturday. In her speech, the new President dealt at length with the Ukrainian war and even named those responsible for it, which Magyar Hang notes is quite rare among Fidesz politicians.

In the introduction to her speech, Novák said that she had arrived to the ceremony with gratitude in her heart, as her family had accompanied her and many others had come to celebrate with her.

Katalin Novák said that we have to show what homeland means, as well as compatriots and our common life and place in the world. But she didn’t shy away from being direct about the war either:

We Hungarians have many reasons to be joyful, proud, and celebratory. A dark sky, however, casts a shadow over our lives: the war. This is not the virtual reality of video games, not CGI, not Photoshop, and not a war movie. This is the bloody reality that our grandparents personally experienced in World War II.

She mentioned that Hungary rushed to immediately help Ukrainians when the first refugees arrived, and stressed how much the country has been doing since then to take care of them. “Hungary has earned an ‘A’ in humanity,” she said.

We condemn Putin’s aggression, attacking a sovereign country. We give an eternal ‘no’ to efforts to restore the Soviet Union.

-stated Novák.

Hungarians want peace, said President Novák, and although it is not their war, it is being waged against them, the peace-loving Hungarian people. Novák also demanded that “war criminals be investigated and punished.”

Katalin Novák also announced that she would be traveling to Warsaw on May 17 to meet with the Polish President. [Magyar Hang]

With Áder Leaving as President, Law He Objected to Will Be Voted on Again

Departing President János Áder hardly ever objected to whatever the government wanted during the ten years of his presidency, writes Telex. But an amendment to the Water Management Act was an issue over which Áder not only took a contrary position for years, but also was able to prevent the government’s will from prevailing.

The government tried to amend the law in 2017 to make it easier for people to drill wells, permitting well drilling to a depth of 80 meters without having to obtain authorization or notify anyone as long as the well only provided water for household use.

However, Áder thought the amendment would endanger groundwater resources, so instead of signing it, he sent the amendment to the Constitutional Court, which determined that the law was unconstitutional.

The government tried again in 2020 with an amendment that experts determined was much more serious than in 2017, but again Áder refused to sign it.

The amendment challenged by Áder has not become law since, but the original 2017 bill that Áder sent to the Constitutional Court has now reappeared on the website of the National Assembly, for the third time, under a new issue number.

But now, Áder only has a few days left as President of Hungary, with Katalin Novák to assume the role on May 10. [Telex]

Fidesz experimenting with anti-Russia messaging, but faces backlash from party faithful

picture of Katalin Novák

“Over the last three weeks, since the outbreak of the war between Russian and Ukraine, the governing parties have apparently been experimenting with finding the best message, and trying out several types accordingly,” Andrea Virág, strategic director and political analyst at the Republikon Institute, told Népszava.

The top leadership, including Viktor Orbán, remains distant, emphasizing the importance of peace, while actors close to Fidesz have said something quite different, thus far typically a pro-Russian narrative. Now the other extreme has emerged, which is not a surprise as the government parties are continuously testing the public to see what society can bear and where the greater demand lies.

On Thursday night, Fidesz messaging featured a few notable anti-Russian voices:

Go home, Russians! Let there be peace!

-wrote Zsolt Németh, the Fidesz chair of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, on Facebook.

While certainly not the first Fidesz-KDNP politician to publicly advocate for peace in Ukraine, the post by well-known pro-Western and Atlanticist Németh struck a rather new tone about Russian aggression in Ukraine.

And to show that it was not an isolated incident, President-elect Katalin Novák also put up a post (pictured above) a few hours before that which simply said:

The war launched by Russia is indefensible and inexplicable.

It is also noteworthy that on the seventh day after her election as Hungary’s new head of state, it just occurred to Novák then to express her opinion on Russian aggression, which prior to that was apparently not as important as posting on other topics, such as the re-opening gala of the Opera House on March 12.

Németh’s and Novák’s posts appear to have caused a great deal of consternation among pro-government voters, based on the angry comments that appeared on them. The government’s decade-long propaganda has had a strong effect on its base, and the minds of their faithful cannot be changed overnight.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place?

Republikon’s Virág states that the war has put Fidesz into a difficult situation, since 12 years have passed since the party converted their previous strong anti-Russian voting base into supporters of Russia and the “Eastern opening” initiative. But now, for domestic and foreign policy reasons, the government is unable to pursue a pro-Russian policy, which is causing confusion among their most devoted supporters.

But they can’t be friendly to Ukraine either, precisely because of the propaganda of the last 12 years. So they remain a ‘party of peace,’ but they are also naturally looking for a new direction. One way to test this is through these statements by Zsolt Németh and Katalin Novák.

-noted Andrea Virág.

Fidesz bases everything on internal measurements. If they saw that they could win by being strongly pro-Western, they would do it. But Fidesz leadership senses that their base is divided over the issue of Ukraine and the Russian invasion.

-stated Patrik Szicherle, an analyst at Political Capital, referring to a Publicus poll that found 44% of Fidesz voters view the Russian attack as an act of aggression.

This is why, the analyst believes, the ruling party has settled on multi-level messaging: while their main message has been one of a “peace party,” news of the Russian invasion appear on various channels of Fidesz propaganda exactly as if it were “information” that came from the Kremlin.

[Népszava]

Katalin Novák elected President of Hungary

picture of Katalin Novák

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.

Novák will serve a five-year term as head of state, and can be re-elected once by the National Assembly.

[Azonnali, Index]

Katalin Novák viewed as more divisive than current president

picture of Katalin Novák

The public sees Katalin Novák (pictured) as more divisive than the current head of state, János Áder, reports Népszava based on a new poll by the Publicus Institute. In addition, three-quarters of Hungarians prefer a president that is independent and non-partisan.

Governing party Fidesz has nominated Novák as its candidate to replace departing President János Áder, and the former minister for families is expected to easily win the March 10 vote in Parliament to be Hungary’s next head of state. For its part, the united opposition also announced earlier this week that its nominee for the post was economist Péter Róna.

The Publicus poll also revealed that only 18% of the population think it is acceptable for Hungary’s president to be a faithful supporter of a single party. However, right-wing voters are much more tolerant of this notion, with 42% of them approving of it, while nearly all opposition supporters reject it. Even 83% of undecided party voters do not agree that the head of state should be strongly partisan.

Half of the respondents consider current President János Áder to be a divisive or slightly divisive politician, but 40% of them claim he has perfomed his duties in a way that have promoted unity. However, opposition sympathizers have a more mixed opinion of Áder, and practically none of MSZP’s voters evaluated his work positively, according to the poll.

[HVG]

Fidesz head of state nominee Katalin Novák more disliked than liked

picture of Katalin Novák

Sixty percent of Hungarians in a new poll would prefer the head of state to be chosen through a direct election, and only 32% wanted Parliament to continue to elect the nation’s president, reported Telex on recent polling by the Republikon Institute. The think tank’s latest poll interviewed 1,000 people by telephone between January 19-24.

Regarding Fidesz’s nominee for head of state, Katalin Novák (pictured), 77% of respondents offered an opinion of the former minister for family affairs. The survey found that 46% of respondents had a favorable opinion of her, while 54% did not. The article claims that although Katalin Novák’s favorability does not exceed the popularity of her party, she cannot be considered a particularly unpopular politician.

The Republikon poll also found that among voters who had to choose a party, Fidesz-KDNP and the United for Hungary opposition coalition would each get 47% of the electorate, while the Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party and Our Homeland would likewise gain 3% support each.

Another key finding in the poll was that as the election gets closer, the number of uncertain voters has started to significantly decrease, from 24% in the previous poll to 14% now among the entire population.

[Magyar Hang]

Parliament to next meet on Feb. 21, election for head of state set for Mar. 10

picture of Gergely Gulyás

The National Assembly’s spring session will begin on February 21, and the successor to President János Áder will be elected by the body on March 10, said Gergely Gulyás, Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister’s Office (pictured), responding to a question in the first Government Information briefing of the year.

This means that MPs will meet right in the middle of the 50-day campaign period beginning on February 12 and concluding at 7:00pm on election day, April 3.

Gulyás stated that the successor to President János Áder, who is term-limited after two terms as Hungary’s head of state, will be elected on March 10, the last day of the parliamentary session. Hungary’s new head of state will then convene the inaugural meeting of the next parliamentary session following the April 3 elections.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced in December that Fidesz would be nominating Katalin Novák, until recently Minister without Portfolio for Family Issues, as its nominee for head of state.

As the ruling Fidesz-KDNP coalition currently has a two-thirds majority in Parliament, Novák’s election by secret ballot in the first round appears a near certainty. Despite this, opposition parties may still decide to nominate their own candidate for the post as well.

[HVG]

Katalin Novák wrote about terrible pay of teachers and nurses in 2010 blog post

picture of Katalin Novák

444 ran some selected quotes from a blog that Fidesz’s nominee for head of state, Katalin Novák (pictured), reportedly wrote in 2010. According to these writings, we can get an idea of how the Fidesz politician lived with her family in Germany at the time as a well-to-do mother of three children, and how she viewed conditions in Hungary then.

In one post, Novák wrote:

Generally-speaking, life in Germany really is easier … I am grateful to fate that I was not forced to have to leave my country, that we do not live on the ridiculous income that a hospital nurse or educator makes.

The post was from 2010, so it is admittedly not in reference to the current situation, but the salaries of nurses and teachers are still not much better. For example, a Hungarian public school teacher does not even make the country’s average monthly salary of 440,000 Ft. (US $1,381) until they turn 61.

Katalin Novák also discussed the situation of kindergarten teachers in Hungary and Germany in another 2010 post, writing:

Attitudes, but also respect, material, and moral recognition may be the cause of differences in the behavior of kindergarten teachers [compared to Hungary]. I have never entered the room without seeing the kindergarten teacher playing, drawing, playing music, or talking to the kids, and I haven’t seen them smoking cigarettes or drinking coffee, or lounging in front of a desk with a bored, tired, broken face.

Katalin Novák was a full-time mother during her life in Germany, while her husband, István Veres, worked at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. The future President of Hungary also wrote about her living conditions at that time:

In Germany, we lived on the edge of a forest, in an amazing environment. I had nothing else to do but manage the three children, raise them, play with them for hours, have a picnic in the huge garden in the afternoon, then take them down to boxing lessons. In the evening we went to the sauna, swam for a bit or lit the fireplace, and enjoyed the fantastic scenery. We had two cars, István drove a convertible and left it wide open wherever he went. The food in the village shop was impressive, with even fresh seafood available on Thursdays. In the morning I ran amongst the deer, and we were only surrounded by people living in similarly well-off circumstances.

Hungary’s future Minister for Family Affairs also talked about how much easier it was to save money in Germany compared to Hungary:

Even with such a high standard of living, we were able to save as much money as would be possible after years and years of hard work back home. Whoever visited us was mostly baffled as to how we could even think of leaving it behind.

At the end of December, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced that Fidesz was nominating Katalin Novák, Minister of Family Affairs at the time, as the successor to President János Áder. Since the ruling party has a two-thirds majority in Parliament, it is virtually assured that she will become Hungary’s next head of state.

444 has more details from Novák’s blog on motherhood, which aren’t available elsewhere as she has deleted her original posts.

[Telex]

László Kövér turned down Orbán’s offer to be head of state

picture of László Kövér

Chancellor Gergely Gulyás gave a long interview to atv.hu in which he spoke about Fidesz’s nomination of Katalin Novák to become the next head of state.

According to Gulyás, Novák was chosen because “out of several possible candidates, László Kövér (pictured) did not want it, and knowing this, we agreed that nominating Katalin Novák was the best choice.”

The minister confirmed in the interview that Viktor Orbán first offered the job to founding Fidesz member and current House Speaker László Kövér, but “he clearly indicated that now, as before, he was not interested in taking the seat as the head of state.”

The interview with atv’s Ildikó Csuhaj also includes this brief exchange:

Csuhaj: Do you consider [opposition prime ministerial candidate] Péter Márki-Zay a dangerous character?

Gulyás: To the opposition or the government?

Csuhaj: Either one.

Gulyás: Yes, to one of them. To one of them, very much.

[HVG]

Biggest stories of the year in Hungarian politics (part 3)

picture of beach

“2021 wasn’t a quiet year by any means for Hungarian domestic politics,” writes Azonnali, which highlights its choices for the nine biggest political stories of the year.

In this third of a three-part series, we’ll highlight the final three of Azonnali’s picks for the top nine stories of the year in Hungarian politics.

You can find part one and part two of this series here.

Hungary’s opposition holds primary elections for joint challengers to Fidesz

Following Fidesz’s electoral victory in 2010 with a two-thirds majority then winning the next two elections (in 2014 and 2018) at similar proportions, Hungary’s opposition finally realized that it could only break the so-called “central power” of the ruling party with a united front and joint candidates.

This is because the new election law adopted by the ruling party in 2011 made it harder to form party alliances by getting rid of two-round elections in favor of a single round. In the previous two-round system, a candidate in one party could step down in favor of another candidate from an allied party in the second round, and thus maximum their overall chances of winning Parliamentary mandates.

The opposition first formed a united front for the municipal elections in 2019. Opposition candidates were able to defeat Fidesz-KDNP candidates in many places where there was a one-to-one matchup, including for the mayor of Budapest, which led to a similar decision to run joint candidates for the 2022 Parliamentary elections.

After a lot of preparatory work, the opposition finally managed to hold Hungary’s first real primary election this past fall with the participation of six opposition parties, generating much higher turnout than expected. In the two rounds held in September and October, voters chose the united opposition’s candidate for prime minister in addition to 106 individual candidates to face the Fidesz-KDNP candidate next year.

Most electoral districts saw a genuine battle between the candidates, as only 11 districts saw an unopposed candidate running for the oppostion’s nomination.

The Democratic Coalition (DK) won most electoral districts: 32 candidates from Ferenc Gyurcsány’s party will be on the ballot in 2022, followed by Jobbik with 29 candidates, then MSZP (18), Momentum (15), Dialogue (6), LMP (4), and the Everybody’s Hungary Movement with 2 candidates.

The two-round battle for the prime ministerial nomination saw two of the five candidates drop out after the first round: Jobbik’s Péter Jakab and András Fekete-Győr of Momentum didn’t make the cut, while DK’s Klára Dobrev, Gergely Karácsony of Dialogue, and Péter Márki-Zay of the Everybody’s Hungary Movement all got the nod to move on to the second round.

But in an unexpected move, Karácsony abruptly dropped out and endorsed Márki-Zay, who went on to defeat Dobrev in the second round and become the united opposition’s candidate for prime minister in the spring 2022 elections.

Pál Völner gets entangled in a corruption scandal

On December 13, the Prosecutor’s General’s Office surprised everyone by issuing a public statement requesting to waive the immunity of Pál Völner, State Secretary at the Ministry of Justice and Member of Parliament.

It was later revealed that Völner was accused of regularly receiving payments of 2-5 million Ft. (US $6,180-$15,450) to do the bidding of the president of the Hungarian Chamber of Judicial Officers.

Völner almost immediately resigned as state secretary after that and Parliament suspended his immunity the following week, allowing criminal proceedings to begin.

The opposition has also called on Justice Minister Judit Varga to resign over the matter, noting that she put her trusted deputy Völner in charge of authorizing the Pegasus spyware against civilians.

Völner thus becomes the fourth Fidesz Member of Parliament to be prosecuted since 2010, as Roland Mengyi was previously convicted of corruption, while György Simonka and István Boldog have also faced corruption charges in recent years.

Katalin Novák chosen as Fidesz’s candidate for head of state

Hungary’s Fundamental Law states that the President of Hungary has to be elected directly by Parliament for a five-year term, for a maximum of two terms.

Current President János Áder took office on May 10, 2012, meaning his term will expire on May 10, 2022. Áder’s successor will have to be decided before the Parliamentary elections in April 2022.

It is a near certainty that this person will be Katalin Novák, Minister without Portfolio for Family Affairs until the end of 2021, who Prime Minister Viktor Orbán unexpectedly announced at the end of December as the selected candidate for the ruling Fidesz-KDNP coalition.

The nomination of Novák was a surprise, as most observers believed that it would most likely be either former Minister of Justice László Trócsányi, now a Member of the European Parliament, or current House Speaker László Kövér, who also served as head of state following the resignation of Pál Schmitt.

Novák, 44, will be Hungary’s first woman head of state. If elected for two terms, she will still only be 54 when her term expires, and so could take over as party chair of Fidesz if Orbán decides to retire in the meantime.

Other aspects of Novák’s character undoubtedly endear her to the Prime Minister: she is a loyal member of Fidesz, having recently completed a term as the party’s vice-president, and so is expected to faithfully represent the party’s interests whether the opposition wins the election or whether Fidesz is re-elected.

[Azonnali][Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash]

Resigning her current role, Novák says left-wing “does not respect women”

picture of Katalin Novák

Katalin Novák will resign as Minister for Family Affairs on December 31, the Fidesz politician announced on her Facebook page.

At a Government Information briefing on Tuesday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán confirmed to a journalist that Fidesz would nominate Katalin Novák as President of Hungary. Novák now wrote that she was concentrating all of her energy on the task before her.

The newly-resigned minister also went to TV2’s program on Wednesday morning to talk to Péter Pachmann about how she felt after it was announced that she would be Fidesz’s nominee for head of state.

Novák said it was “not a one-person invitation” because she also has a husband and three children, and “it is a task that affects the whole family,” which is why they made the decision together.

Of course, I knew that this meant that I could be the first woman President of Hungary, which in itself is a sweet burden and responsibility, and as the first person in the country I have an idea of what the President’s role is, and I considered whether I am able to grow to the task.

-Novák said on the program.

Katalin Novák also noted that there were “countries much more advanced in democracy” such as the United States, France, and Germany, but none of them have had a female president. She said many women now feel that “this is their success too.”

In addition, the politician also spoke about the reaction by the opposition to her nomination as Hungary’s head of state. Their reactions show that left-wing politicians do not respect women, said Katalin Novák.

[444, HVG][Photo: Katalin Novák / Facebook]

Opposition leaders come out strongly against Novák’s nomination as head of state

picture of Katalin Novák

Hungary’s political opposition reacted swiftly and strongly against the news that Fidesz would nominate Katalin Novák, Minister without Portfolio for Family Affairs (pictured), to be the next President of Hungary. Viktor Orbán made the announcement at the last Government Information briefing of the year on Tuesday, in response to a journalist’s question.

As reported earlier, the opposition’s candidate for prime minister, Péter Márki-Zay, wrote that Katalin Novák bore “personal responsibility for the dismantling of the rule of law, the division of the country, the organization of hate campaigns, and rampant corruption. She is completely unfit for the role of President of the Republic.”

Former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, the Chair of the Democratic Coalition, expressed his disappointment by posting a picture of Novák alongside former President Árpád Göncz with the words “It’s too bad that there’s nothing left of the good old things.” The photo’s caption apparently referred to the late President’s broad-based, non-partisan popularity.

Fidesz has even killed the last spark of hope that the first citizen of the country could represent all Hungarians… They humiliate their country. They humiliate the position of head of state. Once again.

-wrote Ferenc Gyurcsány on his Facebook page.

Momentum President Anna Donáth believes the issue is that someone is needed who can embody the unity of the nation, spanning the parties and standing above them.

We need to work to unify the nation… The political system has created a situation that will make one half of society angry and frustrated after the elections in April, regardless of their outcome. That is why I think we need to change the way we elect the President of Hungary after we put a new government in place. The unity of a nation can and must be represented by the nation that grants it the power.

-explained Anna Donáth.

Donáth believes that the time had come to elect Hungary’s President directly, “so that we can build a more peaceful, cohesive, and united country.”

On Facebook, Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi briefly stated:

The President of Hungary should create national unity. The only unit Katalin Novák knows is Fidesz.

Far-right party Our Homeland also called for a direct election of the head of state by the people. The party does not consider Katalin Novák a suitable candidate for the office, and it offered its own nominee for the office, historian Gyula Popély.

Jobbik President Péter Jakab said that if Viktor Orbán wins in 2022, children will continue to not want to get gender reassignment surgery, but the standard of living will remain the same as it is now, except for one difference: instead of János Áder, Katalin Novák will “guard the nation’s division.”

However, as Fidesz holds a majority of members in the National Assembly, it seems unlikely that the leaders of Hungary’s opposition will be able to do much to prevent Katalin Novák from becoming the country’s next head of state.

[Index]

Márki-Zay: Novák is “completely unfit” for the role of head of state

picture of Péter Márki-Zay

After Viktor Orbán announced that Fidesz-KDNP would be nominating Katalin Novák, Minister without Portfolio for Family Affairs, as the next President of Hungary, Péter Márki-Zay (pictured) also expressed his thoughts on the matter.

The opposition’s candidate for prime minister wrote on social media that Viktor Orbán understands society has an expectation of more women in public leadership roles. However, he feels that:

Katalin Novák is not that person. She is even more unfit than [current President] János Áder to say no to Viktor Orbán. It’s a constitutional requirement for the head of state to be someone who stands above the parties, expresses national unity, and is held in public esteem. In contrast to this, Katalin Novák recently resigned as Vice-President of Fidesz. She wears a “Viktor Orbán” earring, is extremely loyal to the President of Fidesz, and is not supported by the majority of the country. She’s someone who thinks that women are worth less than men. She’s someone who talks about not wanting women to earn as much as men.

According to Márki-Zay, Katalin Novák “also bears personal responsibility for the dismantling of the rule of law, the division of the country, the organization of hate campaigns, and rampant corruption. She is completely unfit for the role of President of the Republic.”

[444]

Who is Katalin Novák, Fidesz’s choice for head of state?

picture of Viktor Orbán and Katalin Novák

After Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced that he was nominating Katalin Novák to be Hungary’s next President of the Republic at a press conference on Tuesday, HVG wrote up a short biography of her. Novák would be the first woman to hold the position of Hungarian head of state.

Since 2020, Katalin Novák has held the post of Minister without Portfolio for Family Affairs. From 2001-2003 she was a rapporteur at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and a Ministerial Adviser at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2010-2012.

In 2013, Novák became a Ministerial Commissioner for Francophone Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while from 2012-2014 she was Chief of Staff at the Ministry of Human Resources (Emmi). From 2014-2020, she was State Secretary for Family and Youth Affairs at Emmi, and since 2018 she has served as a Member of Parliament.

Novák is from from Szeged, has three children, and possesses degrees in economics and law. She reportedly speaks four languages beyond Hungarian: French, German, and English at an advanced level, and Spanish at an intermediate level.

The Prime Minister also said that he was sorry that he would have to say goodbye to current President János Áder, who is term-limited after two terms as head of state.

[HVG][Photo: Viktor Orbán / Facebook]

Novák nomination a “logical and smart decision,” says analyst Török

picture of Gábor Török

Responding to the news of Viktor Orbán’s recently-announced plans to nominate Katalin Novák as the next President of Hungary, political analyst Gábor Török (pictured) called it a “logical and smart decision.”

The election for head of state is part of the campaign, said the analyst, so it is no coincidence that unpopular, divisive candidates speculated upon in the media dropped out of consideration.

When Parliament elects a head of state in the last weeks of the election campaign, the decision, and ensuing debate, becomes an even greater part of the campaign than before.

wrote Török on social media.

The political scientist stated that “this is why the unpopular, divisive and vulnerable candidates dropped out, even if, because of their loyalty, they could have been more useful to Viktor Orbán in the post-election political situation.”

Gábor Török added that Katalin Novák, however, “is not that much lower on the loyalty scale as much as she is higher on marketability.” He closed his post by claiming that with this decision, the opposition now has its work cut out for itself.

[HVG]

Orbán nominates Katalin Novák to be President of Hungary

picture of Katalin Novák

The guessing game in the media is over: Viktor Orbán has announced that Fidesz-KDNP would be nominating Katalin Novák (pictured) as the next President of the Republic.

The final government information briefing of the year was held on Tuesday. Although normally held by Chancellor Minister Gergely Gulyás, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Zoltán Kovács, State Secretary for International Communication and Relations, also attended the briefing.

The Prime Minister rarely appears before the press, notes Azonnali, but it soon became apparent why he decided to take part in today’s briefing.

Answering a question from ATV, Orbán confirmed that the ruling Fidesz-KDNP parties would nominate Katalin Novák, Minister without Portfolio for Family Affairs, as their candidate for President of the Republic, replacing current President János Áder.

Hungary’s Fundamental Law states that the head of state can hold a maximum of two terms in office. Áder’s term will expire on May 10, but his successor must be elected 30-60 days before the end of his term. This means that a new president must be elected before Parliamentary elections are held in April 2022.

The President of the Republic, therefore, will be elected by the current Parliament. A minimum of 40 deputies must first nominate one person, who is then elected by a quasi-half majority – if this person does not get a two-thirds majority in the first round, a simple majority is enough in the second round.

Katalin Novák has already accepted the nomination, reports Magyar Hang. As she wrote on a Facebook post:

Representing Hungary, serving the entire Hungarian nation – I am preparing for this challenging task with faith, soul and heart. I respectfully accept the nomination to be President of the Republic. I will stay the same as I am.

In recent days, the press has speculated on the names of László Trócsányi, former Minister of Justice and current MEP, and House Speaker László Kövér as possible presidential candidates. Orbán has now put an end to the speculation by nominating Katalin Novák as Hungary’s second woman presidential candidate, after Katalin Szili.

[Azonnali, Magyar Hang]