Hungary’s First Female Head of State Elected
The new President of Hungary has been elected by a two-thirds majority in the Hungarian Parliament. Former Fidesz vice president and Family Minister, Katalin Novák, received the majority of votes at today’s parliamentary session. The ruling parties voted in her favor, while most of the opposition representatives voted against her. The presidential election was to be held in two rounds, but a second ballot was not required. Although President János Áder’s mandate will not expire until May 9, the ruling parties were able to ensure that someone from their ranks will hold the highest political office before the parliamentary elections. In her introductory speech, Katalin Novák called the Russian invasion “a destructive virus” and promised to work for the unity of the nation.
This article was originally published on our sister-site, Ungarn Heute.
The National Assembly decided today on President János Áder’s successor. The ruling Fidesz-KDNP nominated the party’s former vice president, and the government’s former Family Minister, Katalin Novák, while the opposition parties’ candidate was economist Péter Róna.
Members of parliament elected Katalin Novák as the new President of Hungary in a secret ballot, with a two-thirds majority in the first round. The candidate of Fidesz-KDNP received 137 votes, while her opponent, opposition candidate Péter Róna, obtained 51 votes.
The election of the new president of the republic began at 9:30 a.m. with 15 minute speeches by each candidate.
Today the country elects a new head of state through you, the democratically elected representatives in the parliament,”
Katalin Novák said at the beginning of her speech, while still a candidate for the presidential office. She called the war launched by Russia “indefensible and inexplicable,” and stressed that this had stirred everything up, calling the attack a “destructive virus” at a time when “we were just beginning to recover from the epidemic.”
“There has been a war going on in our neighboring country for 14 days. I visited Transcarpathia last week with four bishops and expressed how Hungarians living there are as important as Hungarians in the motherland and refugees from Ukraine,” Novák continued.
Hungarians want peace and women want to win peace not war, because in peace we can build, prosper, and smile at each other.”
Novák also spoke about her first lifelong alliance, namely the alliance with her husband when she said yes to him at their wedding.
Having children was one of the most important decisions of our lives,”
Novák continued and said that although her husband will be the first “Firstgentleman,” he will remain who he is right now: ” István Veres.”
She also thanked Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for allowing her to be “part of the nation-building process.” Katalin Novák said that whoever is elected President has the task to show the truly beautiful face of the country in the next five years through his/her life, work, appearance, and deeds.
I am ready for this task, I am all prepared. I have to represent all Hungarians. I will remain who I am.”
She promised to use the talents given to her for those who need peace and understanding. “To do this, I will not take the cross from my neck, but I will press it to my heart.” She also promised to visit towns and villages or the Gypsy settlements, as well as Hungarians living across the border. One of her first visits will be to Warsaw.
Pundits across the political spectrum comment on Prime Minister Orbán’s decision to name State Secretary for Family and Youth Affairs and Fidesz vice-president Katalin Novák as the Fidesz candidate for President.
“I belong to a generation that is ready for independence, and we will not allow Russian roulette to be played with the country. We have already experienced what it is like to live under Russian occupation, but we don’t want to be messed with by the West either,” she added.
Hungary will never be Switzerland, and for us Lake Balaton is the Riviera, Kékes is the peak, Hungarian is our secret language, Bartók and Kodály are our brands in music, our neighbors are given. We belong to Europe, and Europe belongs to us and we cannot and do not want to change it,”
said Katalin Novák.
She also spoke about the fact that it was her task to lead the country to the heights of understanding, peace, and security.
Three opposition politicians made it into the top 10 on Forbes’ list concerning the most influental women in Hungarian public life.
She asked: Who is Katalin Novák? and answered:
“She comes from the southern Hungarian city of Szeged, and without the legacy of her grandparents, she would not be who she is right now. As she said, she learned from her mother and father what they had received from their parents, namely values such as honor, integrity, and the ability to stand on both feet. They strengthened those skills with a lot of knowledge.”
We can always go on and start again, we can build, we can strengthen what is ours. As long as we have free will, we cannot be subjugated. The cradle of sovereignty is the family. I will never give that up.”
“It is primarily their task to show togetherness, but not alone,” she said.
Novák also spoke about the upcoming parliamentary elections and emphasized that April 3rd is a decisive moment for everyone, for all Hungarians. As President, she will stand on the foundations of Hungary’s constitution, the Fundamental Law. She will not work to eliminate the existing legal order, but to preserve it, Novák concluded her speech.
Several opposition politicians have strongly criticized Katalin Novák’s nomination as Hungary’s next president, saying the former Fidesz vice-president is unfit to express and strengthen the unity of the nation.
Katalin Novák is Hungary’s first female head of state. The opposition candidate was Péter Róna. We will report on his speech in a separate article.
Featured photo by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI