Following Schmitt’s resignation amid a plagiarism scandal, Hungary needs a new president as soon as possible, said János Lázár, who heads the ruling Fidesz party’s parliamentary group. Hungary’s ruling coalition asked Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to nominate a presidential candidate on April 16 to replace Pál Schmitt.
As the Financial Times noted, since real power lies in parliament, where Fidesz has a two-thirds majority, little will change when it comes to policy. Orbán can, and almost certainly will, choose another submissive acolyte for MPs to vote into office.
Orbán has previously said he would like to see a strongly right-wing person who was involved in the creation of the country’s new constitution as President. Although Speaker of Parliament László Kövér - who is already set to carry out the duties of the presidency until a new head of state is elected - would seem to fit the description perfectly, his election is seen as far from a best solution even for Fidesz, in part because of his reputation for incendiary partisanship and public comments.
Monday night representatives of the five parliamentary parties met to discuss ways to quickly resolve the situation but failed to make any progress, with the representative of some opposition parties suggesting they were not interested in participating in a process where the eventual nominee was a fait accompli.
The Democratic Coalition has suggested pastor Gábor Iványi. Iványi is a man with a long white bushy beard. He is well known in Hungary from public protests and TV appearances. And he has direct ties to Prime Minister Orbán. Iványi baptized the first two of Orbán’s five children. In the 1990s, both men represented liberal parties in parliament. But as Orbán and his Fidesz party became more and more conservative, Iványi moved away from his former political friend.
The opposition Socialists have called for an independent candidate László Sólyom, former President of the Republic to restore prestige to the largely ceremonial presidency but Orbán is unlikely to heed them, mindful that the new leader will be in office until after a parliamentary election due in two years.
"We cannot expect a change in Fidesz' presidential nomination practice in the sense that it seeks a nominee who will be loyal (to the party), who takes a supportive role, as that would serve Fidesz' interests," told Reuters Orsolya Szomszéd, a political analyst at conservative think tank Nézőpont Intézet. "The most important is (also for Fidesz) that the new president should restore confidence in the institution of the president of the Republic."
According to Index.hu, the other candidates seen as most likely to take Schmitt’s place are current Foreign Minister János Martonyi, Fidesz member of European Parliament (as well as party co-founder and former Parliamentary Speaker) János Áder, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) József Pálinkás, former MTA president Szilveszter Vizi E., Ambassador of Hungary to France László Trócsányi, and László Tőkés, a Vice President of the European Parliament and a protestant priest from Transylvania famous for playing a leading role in the 1989 Romanian revolution.
Interim president László Kövér is not rejecting in principle taking the post of head of state for a full term, and appears to be Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s first choice, according to reports.Kövér gave a conditional yes last Monday when Orbán asked him to become head of state, and will take the post if necessary, sources close to Kövér told Népszabadság. He said in an interview with weekly Heti Válasz that “there were persons earlier whom I thought are more suitable for the post, and I still think this way today”.
If Kövér did not accept the position, Fidesz MEP János Áder would be the candidate, the newspaper adds. Áder has not yet made a statement, while Fidesz officials are waiting for Kövér’s decision, Magyar Hírlap reports.The Fidesz executive committee is expected to adopt a position on whom Orbán should nominate for the post of head of state at a meeting on Thursday.
The formal nomination will be announced on April 16. Parliament could then elect a new president on April 18, the first anniversary of the passage of the new constitution.Justice Minister Tibor Navracsics told Inforádió that a party politician or even a cabinet member will be the next head of state.
Source: Bloomberg, Reuters, Financial Times, All Hungary News, MTI
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 April 2012 11:57