Parliament re-elected János Áder for another five-year term as president of Hungary.
Fully 170 deputies cast their votes in the secret ballot, and all votes were valid. Áder, the ruling parties’ candidate, garnered 131 votes, while former data ombudsman László Majtényi, a candidate supported by the leftist opposition, had 39 votes. Áder was elected in a second round with a simple majority of votes, after the first round had been rendered inconclusive by neither candidate receiving support by two-thirds of all deputies in the 199-strong national assembly. After the vote, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán congratulated the re-elected president, who will begin his second term on May 10. Áder was first elected president on May 2, 2012. He earlier served as house speaker and as MEP of the ruling Fidesz party. Áder is the fifth head of state since Hungary’s transition to democracy in 1989-90. Under Hungary’s constitution, the president embodies national unity, safeguards the democratic operation of the state structure and serves as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Hungary. The president can serve a maximum of two terms.
Áder calls for making achievement a ‘central theme’
Evaluating his achievements in the past five years, President János Áder said that “performance should be made a central theme of life”. In his address, delivered before parliament’s vote on Hungary’s president for the next five-year term, Áder repeated his vow made in 2012 to always represent Hungary’s interests and values, and said he would continue on the basis of those values. Áder noted the responsibility he felt for future generations and the natural environment as a top priority in his presidential work. Concerning the latter topic, Áder noted that “political negligence” concerning the environment characterised “nearly” all countries across the world. He pointed to the unprecedented exploitation of resources and a simultaneous increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Concerning his diplomatic efforts during his term, Áder mentioned his talks with Tomislav Nikolić, his Serbian counterpart, in 2012, which led to the Serbian parliament’s condemning anti-Hungarian atrocities at the end of the second world war, and Serbia’s annulling an 1945 decree on the collective guilt of ethnic Hungarians. Referring to next year’s parliamentary elections, Áder quoted 19th-century Hungarian poet János Arany as saying “…if I refuse to contribute to the homeland as much
as I can, it is as if saying I want for there to be no Hungary. But if there is no homeland, we will not be ourselves, either; the question is: do we want the homeland to prosper or not?” Commenting on the speech, the opposition Socialists said that “Áder has proved his incompetence … and does not have a clue” about the situation in Hungary. In their statement, the Socialists condemned Áder for “failing to talk about poverty and considering it more important to praise Hungary-Serbia ties instead”. “Áder did not talk about four million people under the poverty line, but voiced concern for climate change,” nor did he speak about Hungary’s ailing education or health, the statement said. “For Áder there are no hungry children, no corruption, and the rule of law is not in jeopardy,” the Socialists said.
Majtényi: aim is to ‘restore republic’
The Hungarian republic, in which constitutional rights are secured by independent institutions, should be restored so that the country should return to parliamentary democracy, László Majtényi, the presidential candidate of the opposition, told parliament. In his speech before the vote on Hungary’s next president, Majtényi said he wanted a constitution sanctioned by a referendum, one that expresses the common values of rival groups of society and fosters peace. He
called for a free and inclusive Hungary where solidarity has a much greater role than the state. The former ombudsman for data protection called poverty “appalling”, and corruption “all-encompassing”. The only antidotes to the greed of the powerful, he said, are the independent institutions. Concerning migration, Majtényi said that “the only policy acceptable by moral and constitutionals terms is the one that grants as much dignity to those fleeing their homeland as ours, and meets the moral and legal requirements of humanity.” Majtényi said that one should never give in to depravity, corruption, intimidation and environmental destruction. Majtényi said that as president, he would make use of his right to submit bills directly to parliament, and would follow in the steps of former presidents Árpád Göncz and László Sólyom in representing authority and integrity. As president, he would first submit a bill regarding the freedom of the press, he said. In addition, he suggested new legislation regarding the Constitutional Court, social services, public and higher education and the fight against corruption.
Majtényi hails presidential campaign as ‘success story’
László Majtényi, a presidential candidate of the opposition parties, has hailed the past two-and-a-half-month period since his nomination as the opposition’s candidate for president as a “success story”. Speaking at a press conference after the vote, Majtényi congratulated Áder on his re-election and wished him “a much more successful second term”. Majtényi argued that his campaign had been a “success story” as it had generated a level of unity among parties “loyal to constitutionality” not seen since Hungary’s transition to democracy.
Answering a question, he said that whether the parties that had nominated him would continue to cooperate with each other did not depend on him, adding that he did not believe that he would be “a central figure” of any kind of cooperation that may follow. He said the parties that had backed him had “probably done cool-headed calculations” of the potential political or societal benefits this joint effort would bring them. Majtényi added that he expected the parties to conduct similar analyses of the benefits of working together in the future, too. He said he would take part in one more political protest on March 15, a national holiday, adding, at the same time, that he harbored no political ambitions.