The parliament elected today Katalin Novák, the first female president of Hungary. Novák, the former minister without portfolio responsible for youth and family affairs, received 137 votes of 188 valid ballots. Economist Péter Róna, the opposition’s candidate, received 51 votes. After the announcement of the outcome of the vote, the president-elect took the presidential oath of office. Novák will take office on May 10 as the sixth Hungarian president. She will be the first female president of Hungary.
As a candidate, Katalin Novák said on Thursday that once she gets elected, she will hold the constitution as the foundation of her work. The presidential candidate of ruling Fidesz-KDNP told parliament ahead of the presidential election that she was determined to observe and enforce the constitution, and to work as a guardian to preserve it. Novák said she was ready for the task to represent all Hungarians.
She said the country’s free will was the basis of sovereignty and family represented its cradle. “I will never be willing to give up sovereignty in terms of the nation,” she added.
Novák said the war started by Russia was “indefensible and inexplicable”.
Hungarians want peace and women want to win peace not war, she said.
Novák was born in 1977 in Szeged, in southern Hungary. She graduated from the Budapest University of Economic Sciences and Public Administration with a degree in economics in 2011 before earning a degree in community and French law from the University of Szeged and the Universite Paris X. Novák served as an official of the foreign ministry between 2001 and 2003 before becoming an advisor to then-foreign minister Janos Martonyi in 2010 after the birth of her children.
In 2012 she was appointed cabinet chief of then human resources minister Zoltán Balog before going on to serve as state secretary for family and youth affairs from 2014 to 2020. She was appointed minister without portfolio for family affairs in 2020. Last December, Prime Minister
Viktor Orbán announced that ruling Fidesz would nominate Novák as the next president of the republic.
Novák announced in January that she was suspending her membership in Fidesz.
Novák has lived and worked in the United States, France and Germany and speaks English, French, German and Spanish. Thursday’s vote marked parliament’s eighth presidential election since the change of regime in 1990.
According to Hungary’s constitution, the president of the republic embodies the unity of the nation, monitors the democratic operation of the state and serves as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Hungary. The president is elected by parliament for a five-year term and can serve a maximum of two terms.
Péter Róna, the presidential candidate of the united opposition, called for national reconciliation on Thursday, adding that this could only be achieved through fairness. Róna criticised the constitution in his address to parliament ahead of the presidential election, saying that by giving all powers to parliament, it “set the fox to watch the geese”. Ever since the time of Hungary’s first king, Saint Stephen, there has been social consensus about Hungarians wanting to belong to the West, he added.
He said European Union membership was the guarantee to Hungary’s financial stability and NATO membership represented security. “Why should all this be discarded for the friendship of a Russian dictator?” he said. Thanking the six parties for their nomination,
Róna criticised the government for its “close friendship with the instigator of a bloody war in our neighbouring country”.
Róna noted that in the secod world war Hungary’s leadership had remained an ally of Germany even after everyone else had deserted them. He said Hungary was again “incapable of calling the acts being committed what they are”. “We’re anxious because we know we have something to do with what’s going on in the neighbouring country,” he said.
“Can we really not tell the difference between good and evil?”
Róna said, adding that he believed this was not “the Hungarian way”.