NewsHungarian President Katalin Novák resigns amid pedophile pardon scandal; constitutional amendment proposed

Hungarian President Katalin Novák resigns amid pedophile pardon scandal; constitutional amendment proposed

A handout photo made available by the Hungarian presidential Alexander Palace, of Hungarian President Katalin Novak delivering her speech in the Alexander Palace in Budapest, Hungary, 10 February 2024. Hungarian President Katalin Novak resigned on 10 February 2024. EPA/HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES Dostawca: PAP/EPA.
A handout photo made available by the Hungarian presidential Alexander Palace, of Hungarian President Katalin Novak delivering her speech in the Alexander Palace in Budapest, Hungary, 10 February 2024. Hungarian President Katalin Novak resigned on 10 February 2024. EPA/HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES Dostawca: PAP/EPA.
Images source: © PAP | PAP/EPA/HANDOUT
9:26 PM EST, February 10, 2024

In early February, it came to light that Katalin Novák had pardoned a man last spring who was employed at a children's home. The man himself was not guilty of the pedophilic crimes but his superior was. However, the man pardoned by Novák had tried to compel victims to retract their incriminating statements.

This decision ignited a storm of controversy, especially because Novák portrayed herself as a politician whose primary concern is the welfare of families. She once served as the minister for families. Her political party, Fidesz, quickly realized that this scandal might adversely affect the party.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced that he intends to amend the constitution so that, in the future, offenders against minors cannot be pardoned by the president.

Resignation of Hungarian President

Since Thursday, Novák was in Doha, Qatar, with plans to return on Sunday. However, she arrived in Budapest on Saturday. During a televised announcement, she declared that she was stepping down as the President of Hungary.

"I made a mistake. I apologize to those I offended and to all victims, who may feel that I failed them. Today, I address you for the last time as head of state. I am resigning from the position of President of Hungary," she stated.

The President of Hungary doesn't get elected in general elections. As per the constitution, the head of state is elected by the parliament. Katalin Novák had held this position since 2022 and her first foreign trip after assuming office was to Poland.

Former Minister Steps Down

In another major development in Hungarian politics, the Former Minister of Justice, Judit Varga, who was expected to lead Fidesz's campaign in the forthcoming European Parliament elections, has also decided to quit politics. She was the one who signed the pardon application.

"Hungary can still count on me to defend our national interests and values," she wrote.

Varga has given up her parliamentary mandate and will not be contesting in the European Parliament.

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