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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán faces rare political crisis after president’s resignation

FILE PHOTO: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks during a joint news conference with Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini in Budapest, Hungary May 2, 2019. Trump welcomes Orban to the White House on Monday May 13. Photo by Bernadett Szabo/Reuters

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s longtime Hungarian government is facing a rare political crisis after the president resigned amid public anger over his pardon of a man convicted in a murder case. sexual abuse of children.

President Katalin Novák’s resignation over the weekend came after it was revealed that she had pardoned in April 2023 a man convicted of hiding child sexual abuse at a children’s home run by the ‘State. Justice Minister Judit Varga also announced her retirement due to her role in approving the decision.

Some of Orbán’s opponents believe that the resignation of two senior officials from his nationalist Fidesz party is not enough and that Orbán must bear the political consequences.

“Viktor Orbán was not ashamed to hide behind the skirts of two women instead of taking responsibility,” said Anna Donáth, a member of the European Parliament from the Hungarian opposition party Momentum. “That is why we cannot allow this matter to end like this.”

Orbán has not publicly reacted to these resignations.

The European Union’s longest-serving leader and his party, Fidesz, have ruled Hungary with a virtually uninterrupted constitutional majority since 2010. After placing loyalists at the head of government and judicial institutions and taking control of entire sections of the media Hungarian, Fidesz made the task of defeating the adversaries easier.

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But the resignations of Novák and Varga divided Orbán’s supporters and led some to believe they had been sacrificed to protect the prime minister from the political consequences of the scandal, said Dániel Hegedus, a Central Europe analyst and researcher. to the German Marshall Fund.

The resignations “go against the logic by which loyalty to the Orbán regime has been built so far,” Hegedus said. “This divides the core Fidesz electorate on whether these two politicians really should have been sacrificed.”

Novák, a former vice-president of Fidesz, served as family minister until her appointment as president in 2022. She has openly defended the traditional family and the protection of children, a cornerstone of Fidesz’s image as a defender of the Christian religion. conservative values.

But his presidential pardon damaged his party’s reputation and threatened to alienate part of his conservative voting base.

“I think they have clearly seen in their internal polls that the situation is becoming dangerous and that critical electoral groups are rejecting the behavior of the former president,” Hegedus said of Fidesz.

Some of Orbán’s biggest rivals are calling for new consequences.

The Democratic Coalition, the largest opposition party, called for direct presidential elections instead of having Novák’s successor chosen by Fidesz’s parliamentary majority.

In a Facebook post, Ferenc Gyurcsány, leader of the Democratic Coalition and prime minister from 2004 to 2009, vowed that the resignation of two of Orbán’s closest allies would not be enough to end the controversy.

“The resignation of Novák and Varga did not close the file, it opened it,” he wrote.

But the head of the Fidesz parliamentary group, Máté Kocsis, rejected the idea of ​​direct elections.

“It doesn’t work that when the left is in power, they elect the president, and when we are in power, the people elect the president,” Kocsis said.

LEFT:
FILE PHOTO: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks during a joint news conference with Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini in Budapest, Hungary May 2, 2019. Trump welcomes Orban to the White House on Monday May 13. Photo by Bernadett Szabo/Reuters

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