Hungarian Weeklies: First Comments after President Novák’s Resignation

  • 13 Feb 2024 10:59 AM
  • BudaPost
Hungarian Weeklies: First Comments after President Novák’s Resignation
A liberal analyst believes the opposition’s job is to pinpoint Prime Minister Orbán as the main cause of the paedophile pardon scandal, while the government side will try to use its media power to defend itself. A pro-government pundit writes that the events have shown Fidesz’s moral superiority.

Cutting short her visit to the aquatic world championship in Doha a full week after a scandal broke out over her decision to pardon the helper of a paedophile offender, President Katalin Novák flew back to Budapest on Saturday to announce her resignation on the public TV news channel. Within an hour, former Justice Minister Judit Varga followed suit. The Democratic Coalition reacted by suggesting that presidents should be elected by plebiscite, rather than by the parliamentary majority.

On, Péter Pető thinks the opposition’s task is now to capitalise further on the scandal by indicating Prime Minister Orbán as the main responsible. Fidesz has framed itself as a protector of families and traditional Christian values and therefore pardoning a man convicted in a paedophile case is particularly sensitive an issue, he writes, since it may undermine the government’s credibility on many other issues as well, including corruption.

On the other hand, Pető believes, Fidesz must exploit the resignation of the two personalities to show that their people are led by morality in their lives.

In Magyar Nemzet, Zsolt Bayer calls Pető’s article remarkable as the opposition is in fact trying to interpret the case as being emblematic of the whole pro-government camp. In reality, however, he writes, it shows that on the government side, even mistakes have moral consequences, unlike on the side of the opposition, where even crimes remain unpunished.

As for the idea of the direct election of the President, he recalls that liberals who support it now, were against it during the years of the regime change because the probable winner was their adversary. He concludes by calling on his fellow government supporters to show their strength – ‘on the streets, if necessary’.

Left-wing comments on the President’s resignation

One day after the first columns were published on the matter, the left-wing nationwide daily devoted four parallel commentaries to the departure of President Katalin Novák and former Justice Minister Judit Varga.

In his Népszava column, Miklós Hargitai lambasts Katalin Novák who in his view resigned in order to cover up the real reason why she pardoned the helper of a man convicted for paedophile offences. But he even more sharply condemns the person he believes is behind her decision and is now hiding behind her.

In the same issue of the same daily, Zoltán Simon dismisses as irrelevant speculation over who was the influential personality who persuaded President Novák to sign the act of pardon. Whether it was former Cabinet Minister of Human Resources and Calvinist Bishop Zoltán Balog or even the Prime Minister himself, he writes, the scandal shows the moral insanity permeating the government side.

In a third Népszava column on the same issue, Miklós Hajdú criticises the constitutional amendment tabled by the Prime Minister to bar paedophile offenders from the possibility of clemency. He understands the move as a PR manoeuvre but argues that the government should not tinker with the constitution.

András Victor rejects an argument by Fidesz floor leader Máté Kocsis who said the opposition has no moral right to try and profit from the case as it refused to vote for the Child Protection Act in 2021. What the bulk of the opposition refused to sign up to, he explains, was putting paedophilia and homosexuality in the same basket.

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Related links

Paedophile Scandal: President Submits Formal Resignation Letter to Hungarian Parliament

Update on Paedophile Scandal in Hungary: PM's Press Chief Describes Media Reports on Orbán & Reformed Bishop as “Stupid”

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