Elections Hungary

Hungary gov’t to vote through judge as president

| 2024-02-24 2 min read

Hungary gov’t to vote through judge as president

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in damage limitation mode after recent scandals and mass anti-government protests in Budapest, has proposed that Constitutional Court President Tamas Sulyok succeed Katalin Novak as head of state. 

Caucus leader for Orban’s Fidesz party Mate Kocsis said Thursday that the Hungarian premier had personally proposed Sulyok to be Hungary’s next head of state, because “he can best express national unity”, and “is a man of great authority”.

Kocsis said he was glad that Hungary’s independent media reported the story that led to Novak’s resignation, as “this demonstrates that the media in Hungary can operate freely”. Kocsis said an upcoming second package of “child protection” laws, will include 20 amendments, including no time barring or parole for offenders. 

Parliament will formally accept Novak’s resignation, Koscis added, without giving an exact date for the election of Hungary’s next president. Meanwhile, Fidesz stalwart MEP Tamas Deutsch will head up the party’s list of European Parliament members, Kocsis revealed.

Opposition MP assesses new presidential candidate

In 1980, Sulyok graduated in law from the Jozsef Attila University of Szeged, south Hungary. He started his career at Csongrad County Court, and worked as a legal advisor until 1991, local media wrote.

Sulyok was Austrian honorary consul from 2000-14, and became a member of the Constitutional Court in September 2014, vice president from April 2015, and president from November 2016. In 2021 he told Index: “I have nothing to do with political criticism, I have never been interested in politics in my life.”

Hungary’s opposition parties were unmoved by the prospect of Sulyok as the government candidate for head of state, however, instead calling for a popular vote.

Momentum MP Marton Tompos tweeted “Fidesz has just announced their pick for the successor of Novak, their new ‘signing machine’, Tamas Sulyok, the current Chief Justice of the so-called ‘Constitutional Court’, adding that “two out of three Fidesz nominees failed miserably, let’s see how he’ll do.

“Sulyok was appointed ten years ago to the Court, by Orban’s 2/3 majority, then became its Chief Justice in 2016. Since then, the Court has delivered decisions mostly reflecting the will of the ruling party. His old law firm was also connected to Fidesz by numerous threads.

“Once again, Fidesz has picked a figure generally unknown to the public, likely incapable of representing the unity of the nation, to act as their puppet in the Presidential Palace, instead of letting Hungarians elect their president directly,” Tompos added.