János Áder to serve five more years as President of Hungary

János Áder, the technocratic Fidesz politician who was the mastermind behind the electoral map and system that heavily favours the ruling party, was elected by parliament on Monday to serve a second five year term as President of Hungary. Mr. Áder and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán have had their differences over the years and not too long ago, it appeared as though rather than a second term as Hungary’s largely ceremonial president, Mr. Áder sought to become the Secretary General of the United Nations. In order to build international credibility on a major global issue, Mr. Áder briefly embrace environmental protection as his new passion. But on Monday, in a second round of voting, the near super majority that Fidesz commands in parliament sent Mr. Áder back to the Sándor Palace, perched up over Budapest in the Castle District, for another five years.

Mr. Orbán had earlier suggested that for the president to have real legitimacy, he must win two thirds of the votes in Parliament. On Monday, Mr. Áder failed to win two thirds of the 199 MPs, with 131 MPs voting for him and the entire centre-left opposition, usually fragmented, showing a united front with 44 votes for their nominee, László Majtényi, Hungary’s former ombudsman. In the second round of voting, Mr. Áder only needed a simple majority and, not surprisingly, he got this without trouble.

János Áder

Fidesz and their partner, the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP), voted for Mr. Áder, while the Socialists, the Democratic Coalition, the Politics Can Be Different party and all left-leaning independent MPs backed Mr. Majtényi. Jobbik did not formally endorse either candidate.

Mr. Majtényi had the opportunity to address parliament, as one of the two nominees.

“Regardless of our convictions and regardless of which party we support, it is better for all of us, if we can live under the rule of institutions, rather than people. Under the rule of people, our life is less predictable, than when we are governed by institutions,” remarked Mr. Majtényi and then added that it seems that today more people are taking advice from Machiavelli. “If the ruler needs to find an enemy, one day it’s the migrant, today it is the bad oligarch, tomorrow it is Soros and then the day after tomorrow you yourself will become the enemy,” noted the former ombudsman eloquently.

Hungarian Presidential candidate of the opposition coalition, Lászlo Majtényi, delivers his speech during the plenary session of the unicameral Hungarian Parliament in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, March 13, 2017. Photo: MRI. 

Mr. Majtényi promised that he would be independent of the parties who supported him, as president, saying that he would “surely not remain grateful for longer than a half hour.” Re-establishing constitutionalism in Hungary required a strong and independent president. One approach he would take is that he would use the right of the president to address parliament on a very frequent basis. His other strategy would be to submit a series of proposed laws, once again using the president’s prerogative to do so. One of these would be a proposed law on free press.

He ended his speech with a dig at Mr. Orbán, whose party and media claimed that Mr. Majtényi was an agent of George Soros. “In light of the past week I could ask that if there are parties here whose leaders once enjoyed support from George Soros, then vote for me today!” Mr. Orbán and many of his Fidesz colleagues studied in the West on Soros scholarships, at the threshold of the change in regime, some 27 years ago.

In the end, as was to be expected, Mr. Áder remained president and will be rarely seen or heard, doing little to hold up Mr. Orbán’s agenda or defy the prime minister. The opposition, however, at least showed that on this symbolic issue, it put aside its differences and stood united.

 

2 Comments

  1. Avatar Miklos Banfi says:

    Perfect assessment. Too bad, that by far the best statesman of the country came in the wrong time. As known I have never been a fan of Ader, I don’t really expect him to do in his power more than before – practically zero – when he has really nothing to lose anymore and he could at least prove and distance himself from this mafia, not to end up with an inevitable shame in the garbage of history, as his legacy.

  2. Hungary became an autocracy under Orbán, and with the assistance of the EU. Without the billions of EU subsidies, and the tolerance shown towards the dismantling of the rule of law, Orbán’s corrupt, mafia state would have failed a long time ago. As for Áder – he ain’t no technocrat – he’s just a good ol’ country boy from Csorna, just like the richest Hungarian, the pipe-fitter from Felcsút. They are all part of the farce, that Hungary has become under Orbán’s leadership.

Leave a Reply to András B. Göllner Cancel

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *