Hungary’s first female president, Katalin Novak, resigned yesterday after mounting pressure for pardoning a man convicted of helping to cover up sexual abuse in a children’s home.
Novak, 46, a close ally of conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the youngest person to hold the office of president, resigned just a week after her presidential pardon was first reported.
The revelation caused a public uproar and demands from the opposition for her and former Justice Minister Judit Varga to quit. Varga, a rising star in Orban’s ruling Fidesz party, resigned as a lawmaker on Saturday.
‘I made a mistake… Today is the last day that I address you as a president,’ Novak, whose role as president is largely ceremonial, said as she announced her resignation on state television.
She cut short an official visit to Qatar and returned to Budapest unexpectedly yesterday.
‘I made a decision to grant a pardon last April believing that the convict did not abuse the vulnerability of children whom he had overseen. I made a mistake as the pardon and the lack of reasoning was suitable to trigger doubts over the zero tolerance that applies to paedophilia,’ she said.
She said in a statement on earlier this week: ‘Under Katalin Novák’s presidency, there is no pardon for paedophiles, and there never will be. There is no excuse for paedophilia.’
The scandal was a rare setback for Orban, who has been in power since 2010, and who faces European parliament elections just as the country emerges from an inflation crisis. MailOnline