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Speculation about President Áder’s future

May 23rd, 2016

Commentators give credence to rumours that the Prime Minister doesn’t want Mr Áder to be re-elected next year. Opinions diverge, however about the reasons and one source claims that the President took the job four years ago for a single term anyway.

Népszabadság’s Imre Bednárik and Ildikó Csuhaj find that György Rubovszky, a leading Christian Democrat MP was right when he told a colleague in private that the Prime Minister “won’t let him be re-elected”. The conversation was recorded on tape by HÍR TV, and Mr Rubovszky later denied he was referring to the President of the Republic. PM Orbán’s spokesman told reporters that the Prime Minister has no constitutional role in deciding who the next president will be. Népszabadság’s two journalists believe that the Prime Minister disapproved of Mr Áder’s refusal to sign the bill barring public scrutiny of the activities of foundations set up by the National Bank (see BudaPost, March 11). They admit that the President has never made any gesture to anyone in order to promote his re-election. Nevertheless, they predict that the Prime Minister will only open the re-election issue a few months before the matter is due. For the moment, they believe his favourite is Zoltán Balog, the Minister of Human Resources.

On Index, András Dezső acknowledges that Mr Áder refused to serve as a “signing machine” and opposed decisions by the parliamentary majority on several important issues, albeit “without causing serious problems”. In addition to the National Bank Bill, he also referred the controversial bill on the preliminary registration of voters to the Constitutional Court and had it repealed. He also managed to get a few “minor” laws scrapped, on the basis of considerations of environmental protection, including one authorising the sale of lands belonging to national parks and another on the special tax that was planned to be imposed on the use of solar panels. He expressed his dissatisfaction with a constitutional amendment, and signed it with the remark that “I had no other choice”. Commenting on the statement by Mr Orbán’s spokesman according to which the PM has no role in deciding who the President will be, Dezső remarks that Mr Orbán is also the chairman of a party with almost two thirds of the mandates in Parliament and as such he has a strong say in whom Fidesz MPs put forward as their candidate and who will ultimately be elected.

In Heti Válasz, Barna Borbás sees his cover story of the previous week (entitled “Why doesn’t Orbán want Áder to keep his job”) corroborated by these developments. He quotes two unnamed sources who claim that Mr Áder told the Prime Minister four years ago that he would only take the job for a single term. The original candidate to replace Pál Schmitt who had to resign in the wake of an unpleasant plagiarism scandal (see BudaPost, February through April 2012) would have been House Speaker László Kövér, but Borbás writes that he considers himself politically too divisive to serve as President, and found the prospect of frequent journeys abroad unattractive. All in all, Borbás suggests that the incumbent president was actually more active in his role in the system of checks and balances than any of his predecessors – one of whom (Mr Schmitt) never vetoed a single bill passed by Parliament, while the other two (Messrs. Göncz and Mádl) only used this constitutional weapon against bills voted by “the other side” – that is, parliaments dominated by parties belonging to political camps opposed to their own. (The analyst doesn’t mention the green-conservative László Sólyom, who during his term vetoed 16 bills passed by a left liberal majority from 2006 to 2010.)

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