Hungarian President Katalin Novak resigned on Saturday amid people’s protests as she pardoned a man who was convicted of covering up a child sexual abuse case. Hungarian media had made public a list of 25 people pardoned by the president in April 2023 as part of Pope Francis’ visit to Hungary. One of those who had been pardoned was convicted in a child abuse scandal.
The president was in Qatar when protests broke out in Hungary after the list of who were pardoned by her last year was released. She flew back to Budapest to address the nation.
Katalin Novak addressed the nation on television and said that she had “made a mistake, as the pardon and lack of reasoning were conducive to triggering doubts about the zero tolerance that applies to pedophilia.”
She also apologized to victims who “might have felt I did not stand up for them.”
Katalin Novak has been a young and upcoming politician and a close ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. She was the former family health minister and became the president, a ceremonial position.
The same child abuse case also led to another resignation. Judith Varga was the minister of justice when the convicted person was pardoned. She also resigned as she had countersigned the decision to forgive him. She was in charge of leading Fidesz, the ruling party, in the European elections to be held in June. She said that she was “retiring from public life.”
The decision to grant amnesty to the convicted person caused a lot of embarrassment for Fidesz. The party says that traditional family values are the cornerstone of their policy.
Hungarian opposition parties had been asking for the resignation of both Novak and Varga. On Friday, over 1,000 people gathered in Budapest, asking for their resignation. On Saturday, both of them resigned.
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