Hungary’s first female president

The Hungarian parliament elected Katalin Novak, a close ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, as the country’s first female president.

Hungary's first female president

Katalin Novak on March 10 won 137 votes from MPs, while her opponent, economist Peter Rona, received 51 votes. Ms. Novak described the election results as a victory for women. At 44 years old, she will be the youngest head of state in Hungarian history.

Ms. Novak is expected to start her five-year term from May 10. As president, she has the power to temporarily block legislation and call referendums.

Hungary's first female president
Katalin Novak takes the oath after being elected president in the Hungarian parliament on March 10

Born in Szeged, Hungary’s third largest city, Ms. Novak graduated in economics and law, having lived for seven years in Germany, where her husband works. After serving in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for many years, she became an MP in 2018 and later held the position of Hungarian family affairs Minister.

Katalin Novak has been the face of government policies, including generous tax breaks and incentives for young couples to have more children. In 2019, Ms. Novak was awarded the Order of the Legion of Honor for her contribution to improving relations between Paris and Budapest.

She is a staunch supporter of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has been in office since 2010 and has conservative, populist policies. His party holds a majority in the Hungarian parliament.

In an interview last December, Ms. Novak denied that she would be a “tool” to expand Orban’s power.

Hungary's first female president
“Those who say that I will be just a puppet in this position are not insulting me personally, but women in general. They cannot believe that a woman is capable of being an independent official, giving make autonomous decisions,” Hungary’s new president said.

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