Hungarian parliament elects top court chief as new president

By Thomson Reuters Feb 26, 2024 | 12:10 PM

By Boldizsar Gyori

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungary’s parliament elected Constitutional Court chief Tamas Sulyok as the country’s next president on Monday, two weeks after the unexpected resignation of Katalin Novak.

Novak, a close ally of conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban, resigned from the largely ceremonial role as president after she came under mounting pressure for pardoning a man convicted of helping to cover up sexual abuse in a children’s home.

Sulyok’s swift election could help Orban regain the political initiative after a scandal that appeared to clash with one of his party’s key tenets: its commitment to traditional family and Christian values.

Parliament elected Sulyok for five years with the backing of lawmakers from Orban’s ruling party, which has a commanding majority.

“Just as a lawyer, also as President of the Republic, I can best serve the public good and stand for the unity of the nation by upholding the fundamental values of the law,” Sulyok said in a statement after his nomination.

In a brief speech after his election, he promised transparency in his decisions about presidential pardons and awards.

Sulyok has been the president of Hungary’s top court since 2016, a mandate he also received with the backing of lawmakers from the Fidesz ruling party.

He is expected to take up the role on March 5.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than and Boldizsar Gyori; editing by Christina Fincher and Andrew Heavens)