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Why is Katalin Novak resigning as Hungary’s president?

Hungarys former president Katalin Novak speaks during the High-Level Segment for Heads of State and Government session at the United Nations climate summit in Dubai on December 1, 2023. — AFP
Hungary’s former president Katalin Novak speaks during the High-Level Segment for Heads of State and Government session at the United Nations climate summit in Dubai on December 1, 2023. — AFP

Katalin Novak, the first female president of Hungary, announced Saturday that she would be stepping down from her position following protests demanding her resignation over a pardon granted for a child sex abuse case.

“I am resigning my post,” said the 46-year-old Novak, acknowledging that she had made a mistake.

“I apologise to those who I hurt and all the victims who may have had the impression that I did not support them. I am, I was and I will remain in favour of protecting children and families.”

Novak assumed office on March 10, 2022, and is a close ally of Hungary’s conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orbán who is facing European parliament elections, NDTV reported.

Novak, who is an economist, completed her university studies in Budapest and Paris on a scholarship and kicked off her career in 2001 at the foreign ministry.

The role of the president in Hungary is ceremonial and has the power to grant pardons to convicts.

The controversy sparked after a former deputy director of a children’s home was granted a presidential pardon after he helped cover up his boss’s sexual abuse of the children in their charge.

In a bid to control the damage, Orbán submitted a constitutional amendment to the Hungarian Parliament last week, depriving the president of the right to pardon crimes committed against children.

In April last year, Novak vetoed a controversial law passed by the National Assembly, which was considered discriminatory toward LGBTQ+ people.

Orban’s government has been clamping down on LGBTQ+ rights for over a decade.

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