Hungarian President Katalin Novak resigned from office on Saturday, following a child abuse pardon scandal.
“I am addressing you as President for the last time, I resign from the position of President of the Republic,” Novak said on national television channel M1. “I apologize to those I have offended and to all the victims who might have felt I did not stand by them. I have been, am, and will be in support of protecting children and families,” she added. Novak pardoned Endre K., former deputy director of a children’s home, in April 2023. The pardon, revealed by local news site 444.hu, led to protests on Friday in Budapest demanding her resignation.
Shortly following Novak’s resignation, Hungary’s former Justice Minister Judit Varga also resigned from public office.”I take political responsibility for countersigning the President’s decision. I am withdrawing from public life, resigning my parliamentary mandate, and stepping down as the head of the list for the European Parliament,” Varga said on her social media page.
Varga was minister of justice when Novak signed the controversial pardon. “Katalin Novak and Judit Varga have made a responsible decision, which we respect,” Mate Kocsis, head of the parliamentary group of the ruling Fidesz party, reacted on his Facebook page to their resignation.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Facebook Thursday that he had submitted a constitutional amendment on behalf of the government to prevent a pardon from being granted to perpetrators of crimes committed against minors.
“There shall be no mercy for paedophiles,” Orban said. Elected to office by the Hungarian parliament in 2022, Novak has been the country’s first female president and also the youngest ever to hold the mostly ceremonial position.