Hungarian President Katalin Novak resigned on Saturday, February 10, over a child abuse case pardon.
After revelations surfaced that Novak had granted a presidential pardon to a director found guilty of concealing a series of child sexual crimes at a state-run children’s home in April 2023, the decision was met with more than a week of public outcry.
For sexually abusing young boys between 2004 and 2016, the deputy director was given a three-year sentence, while the director was given an eight-year prison term.
It was discovered late, even though the deputy director was awarded mercy in April 2023.
“I decided to grant a pardon last April, believing that the convict did not exploit the vulnerability of the children whom he had overseen,” Novak said.
“I made a mistake, as the pardon and the lack of reasoning were conducive to triggering doubts about the zero tolerance that applies to paedophilia,” she added.
She apologized “to those whom I may have offended and to all the victims who might have felt that I did not stand up for them.”
“consistently advocated for the protection of children and families,” Novak continued.
“Today is the last day that I address you as a president,” Novak said.
The opposition demanded that Novak resign after the revelation sparked a public outcry.
On Friday, February 9, thousands of demonstrators demanded the resignation of the president by taking to the streets of Budapest, the nation’s capital.
Hungary’s first female president, Novak, has sparked a political crisis that is unprecedented for the long-serving nationalist administration of the nation.
Her departure represents a unique moment of unrest for the right-wing party, which has been charged with undermining democratic institutions and manipulating the media to its advantage under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s direction.
One of Orbán’s main allies, Novak, has always been a vocal supporter of traditional family values and child protection.
Since 2022, she has served mostly in a ceremonial capacity as president.
The minister of justice had to resign as a result of the incident.