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Hungary Elects New President Amidst Former's Resignation Over Pardon Controversy

Amidst the political turmoil triggered by a child sex abuse pardon, Hungary's National Assembly appointed a new president.
The resignation of Katalin Novak, Hungary's first female president and an ally of Viktor Orban, followed her controversial decision to pardon an accomplice in a child abuse case.

Tamas Sulyok, previously the head of Hungary's Constitutional Court and a figure with limited public recognition, has been selected to succeed Novak.

His elevation to the presidency is seen as an attempt by Prime Minister Orban to stabilize the situation, following what he termed a "nightmare" scandal that has become one of the gravest challenges to his leadership since 2010.

After parliamentary approval, where the ruling coalition has a significant majority, Sulyok was sworn in and will assume office on March 5. Critics from opposition parties, who recently demonstrated for direct presidential elections, argue Sulyok lacks political experience for the largely ceremonial role.

The scandal implicating Novak emerged when it was disclosed that she had pardoned a child abuse accomplice just before Pope Francis's visit. The ensuing public outcry led Orban to propose legislation to prevent clemency for convicted child abusers and to implement more rigorous checks on those working with children.

Political analyst Szabolcs Pek suggests that Sulyok's reserved nature and lack of party affiliation indicate a more subdued presidential tenure, aligning with the ruling party’s preference for stability amidst the recent controversy.

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