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A Party politician for President – why not?

April 11th, 2012

While the whole Hungarian political and media scene tries to guess who the next President will be, following Pál Schmitt’s resignation last week, a leading centrist analyst believes that despite some concerns, it would not necessarily be a problem if  the choice falls on a party politician.

According to the Constitution, Parliament has to elect a successor to President Pál Schmitt within 30 days of his resignation on 2nd April. (See BudaPost April 3rd and 4th.) Two names have emerged in the media as the most likely candidates: Speaker of Parliament László Kövér, and MEP János Áder, both founding Fidesz members. Critics argue that a party loyalist President would not express the unity of the nation as required under the constitution.

The President is elected by the parliamentary parties, but since the fall of Communism, the parties have in most cases tried to avoid nominating party politicians. For this reason, in 2005 the liberal Free Democrats, despite their position as a member of the governing Socialist-Liberal coalition, refused to vote for the Socialist nominee, then Speaker of Parliament and vice chairman of the Socialist Party Katalin Szili – political scientist Gábor Török writes in his blog.

The leading centrist analyst believes that although feelings to the contrary are legitimate, it is not wrong for a politician to stand as candidate for the presidency. You should not discard all party politicians, Gábor Török warns, as “distance from party politics does not automatically result in competence.”

Of the two candidates whose names have emerged as http://www.phpaide.com/demos/ContactForm/ serious potential contenders, Török clearly favours MEP János Áder. He believes House Speaker László Kövér is too emotional and would need to change a great deal in order to fulfil the role of a President uniting the nation. Áder, on the other hand, showed remarkable self-discipline as House Speaker from 1998 to 2002 and carefully refrained from insulting his party’s political opponents. In a reference to Áder’s alleged conflict with Viktor Orbán after Fidesz’s electoral defeat in 2006, Török says the MEP proved himself to be a man of principle and “became an internal enemy” – which was the main reason for his exit from domestic politics and move to the safer hunting grounds of the European Parliament. In conclusion, Gábor Török points out that party politicians do have one significant advantage over other candidates – we all know what to expect from them.

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