Janos Ader, a 24-year ally of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, was nominated to become the country’s next president, succeeding Pal Schmitt, who quit after a panel ruled he plagiarized parts of his doctoral thesis.
Orban nominated Ader today at a meeting with lawmakers from his ruling Fidesz party, Peter Szijjarto, the premier’s spokesman, said at a press conference in Budapest. Parliament, where Orban wields a two-thirds majority, is scheduled to vote on Ader for a five-year term on May 2, Janos Lazar, head of the ruling Fidesz party’s parliamentary group, said today.
“I accept the nomination with the respect and humbleness required by the post,” Ader said in an e-mailed statement. “I’ve always stood in the service of democracy.”
Hungary’s premier is turning to an ally to fill the largely ceremonial post after losing Schmitt, who signed every piece of legislation the government sent him since taking office in 2010. European Union concerns over some of those laws, including a judicial overhaul authored by Ader that the bloc says infringes on courts’ independence, have blocked Hungary’s talks on an International Monetary Fund-led loan.
“Orban is again entrusting the presidency to a party loyalist, continuing a practice of naming allies to head independent institutions,” Peter Kreko, an analyst at Political Capital in Budapest, said today by phone. “Ader won’t be a counterweight to the government’s agenda in his position.”
Five months after Hungary requested aid from the EU and the IMF, talks have yet to begin as Orban failed to convince the EU that independent institutions are free of government influence. The forint has lost 4.2 percent against the euro since rising to a five-month high on Feb. 21 as investors question the government’s resolve to reach an agreement with the IMF.
Fidesz Since 1988
While the bulk of executive power lies with the prime minister, Schmitt’s predecessors regularly returned legislation to Parliament or sought review by the Constitutional Court.
Ader, a 52-year-old lawyer, joined Fidesz in 1988, the year Orban co-founded the party. He became a member of parliament in 1990 in Hungary’s first free elections after the end of communism and worked in the legislature until becoming a member of the European Parliament in 2009.
He has served as the party’s vice president and was parliament’s speaker during Orban’s first term as premier from 1998 to 2002. He led Fidesz in the legislature in opposition from 2002 to 2006.
Schmitt, a two-time Olympic fencing champion and another Fidesz member who served in the European Parliament, bowed to pressure to quit this month after Budapest-based Semmelweis University stripped him of his doctoral degree in sports. He’s the first president to quit since communism ended in 1990.
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