Hungarian president resigns amid protests over sexual assault pardon

Hungary’s president, a loyal but largely impotent ally of authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, resigned on Saturday amid public protests over her pardon of a man implicated in a sex abuse scandal at a children’s home.

President Katalin Novak, an outspoken advocate of traditional values ​​and Hungary’s former family affairs minister, announced her resignation on television, the latest in a series of senior figures in Mr. Orbán’s ruling conservative Fidesz party to have been brought down by sex scandals.

She resigned as president, a mostly ceremonial position she has held since 2022, in response to widespread anger, including within the Fidesz party, after recent revelations that a man she pardoned last year was convicted of covering up sexual assaults at a state-run children’s home. .

The man was among more than 20 people pardoned by Ms. Novak last April before A.J Pope Francis’ visit to Hungary.

“I issued a pardon that caused confusion and confusion among many people,” Novak said on Saturday, stressing that she believed that “the convict did not take advantage of the vulnerability of children.” She said that was a “mistake.”

Her departure is unlikely to weaken Orban’s tight grip on power, but it does deal a blow to the image of Fidesz – which has been nurtured by state and private media controlled by the ruling party – as a strong party. A defender of Christian values ​​and an enemy of the sexual exploitation of children, Which the government has often linked to efforts by the European Union to protect LGBT rights.

Pledges to defend children from predators have become an increasingly important part of the domestic political messaging of Mr. Orban, who has won four general elections in a row and who regularly denounces his critics at home and abroad as “woke globalists” bent on undermining traditional culture. family.

A number of Fidesz politicians, including A A powerful mayor was captured on video participating in an orgy with prostitutes on a yachtShe has been involved in sex scandals in recent years. He was the most prominent of these Josef Sajer, Fidesz member in the European Parliament Who helped rewrite Hungary’s constitution to include a ban on same-sex marriage. He resigned in 2020 after Belgian police officers arrested him for violating Covid restrictions by attending a male orgy in Brussels and then trying to escape through a drain pipe.

On the defensive over Ms Novak’s pardon of her partner in a child sex abuse case, the Fidesz party on Thursday proposed amending the Hungarian constitution to prevent granting future clemency to anyone convicted in connection with crimes against children.

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