Fidesz takes a plunge

Published on 14 February 2024 at 15:06
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Katalin Novák : “We’re safe and dry”.

Is the reign of Hungary's all-powerful ruling party, Fidesz, beginning to crack? The scandal now gripping Viktor Orbán's self-proclaimed "illiberal democracy" might suggest so. On 10 February, the President of the Republic, Katalin Novák, announced her resignation in a televised address, followed by the former Minister of Justice and head of the Fidesz list for the European elections, Judit Varga.

The two women had been in the spotlight for several days after the independent Hungarian media outlet 444.hu revealed Katalin Novák's decision - with Varga’s approval - to pardon a man convicted of covering up for a pedophile. The affair dates back to April 2023. On the occasion of the visit of Pope Francis, Novák granted a presidential pardon to 22 convicts, including the man at the heart of the scandal. Following the publication of 444.hu's revelations, several thousand people gathered in Budapest to demand the President's resignation.

While the revelations have shaken the Orbán government, the long-term consequences remain unclear. Nevertheless, the affair puts the spotlight on the two familiar realities: the hypocrisy of the government’s two-tier moral crusade, and the cynicism of its readiness to cast off loyalists for the slightest misstep.


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