Hungarian President Resigns Amid Scandal

The president of Hungary resigned from office on February 10 after facing public anger over a pardon she granted to a man convicted of covering up a series of child molestations at a state-run home for children, the Associated Press reported.

In a televised announcement, President Katalin Novák revealed she was stepping down after only two years in office. Her resignation followed more than a week of protests after the April 2023 pardon came to light.

In her announcement, Novák admitted that the pardon had been a mistake and acknowledged that the decision “caused bewilderment and unrest.”

Novák, a key ally of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, was the former vice president of Orbán’s governing party Fidesz, which has controlled the country since 2010.

Novák, an outspoken advocate for family values and protecting children, was the first woman to serve as Hungary’s president and the youngest president in the country’s history.

In April, Novák pardoned a man convicted in 2018 for pressuring victims to retract their accusations against the children’s home director. The director was convicted of abusing at least ten children from 2004 until 2016 and was sentenced to eight years.

In her televised address, Novák said she granted clemency to the man since he had not been involved in abusing the children. Admitting that she made a mistake, Novák apologized to the victims and for the outrage her pardon caused.

Another key member of Fidesz, former Minister of Justice Judit Varga, was also implicated in the scandal for endorsing Novák’s pardon. Varga was leading the list of Fidesz candidates for the European Parliament’s elections this summer.

However, in a February 10 Facebook post, Varga announced that she was taking responsibility for the pardon and would retire from politics.

In a speech marking the 25th anniversary of his first speech as prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán addressed Novák’s resignation for the first time on Saturday, describing it as a “nightmare” for Hungary.

The prime minister conceded that Novák’s decision was the “correct” one but added that it was “a big loss” for the country.