The aftermath of the recent scandal precipitates the urgent need for the state to select a new head of state. Despite the president of the republic’s resignation, announced merely two days ago amidst a pardon scandal, public opinion on the next potential leader is already under survey through a telephone poll initiated since Thursday.
The government’s decision to implement a popularity and name recognition index for potential candidates indicates their commitment to securing the upcoming election’s outcome, especially in light of past instances where two out of three nominated presidents faced difficulties. In conjunction with the telephone survey, the Government is set to launch a comprehensive large-sample survey on the prospective head of state, gathering personal inquiries starting from Monday. Furthermore, there is a growing pressure within Fidesz membership for clarity surrounding the abrupt absence of their respected female politicians, Katalin Novák and Judit Varga according to Index.
New Head of State candidates
Insider reports indicate that Viktor Orbán is leaning away from considering a female candidate for the presidency, instead favouring qualities akin to János Áder, the former head of state, whose leadership was steadfast, despite lacking in charisma. Frustration among Fidesz’s leadership mounts as two out of three supported heads of state have faltered. Here are the potential candidates identified through the popularity survey:
- Tibor Navracsics, Minister of Regional Development
- Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, Minister of Defence
- Béla Merkely, Rector of Semmelweis University
- István Stumpf, former cabinet minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s Office
- László Trócsányi, former Minister of Justice
Strengths and weaknesses of potential candidates
Sources within the government indicate that Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky’s personality traits and forthcoming initiatives position him as a viable candidate for the head of state role. Surrounded by escalating geopolitical tensions, especially because of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, his experience as the defence minister is particularly suited to meet the challenges of these turbulent times. However, his transition from the business world to politics raises concerns, as his past in business may expose vulnerabilities that could be exploited by critics in the future.
Tibor Navracsics, much like Katalin Novák, is a seasoned politician familiar with the intricacies of Brussels politics. Known for his lack of scandals and amiable nature, he serves as a constructive force within the government. However, he may not enjoy widespread popularity among domestic voters. Additionally, his expertise remains indispensable for the government’s legal and political interactions with Brussels.
Béla Merkely, Rector of Semmelweis University, renowned for his contributions during the COVID-19 epidemic and recipient of the Széchenyi Prize for his medical achievement, presents a compelling candidacy for the head of state position. However, his involvement in party videos may become a source of ridicule, potentially detracting from his candidacy.
István Stumpf, a former constitutional judge emerges as another potential candidate. Notably, his mentorship has played a pivotal role in the development of several prominent Fidesz politicians, such as Viktor Orbán and Jószef Szájer. However, his reputation as a vocal critic could pose a disadvantage. László Trócsányi has previously been floated as a potential candidate, but he was assigned to a different role by the cabinet. In 2022, there was a speculation about his candidacy to replace János Áder as Head of State; however, Fidesz ultimately nominated Katalin Novák. According to the legislation, László Kövér will serve as the interim Head of State until the election which is scheduled for March.
Here is what comes after the Hungarian President resigned – HERE
Hungarian President resigns after pardoning paedophile helper – HERE
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