Hungary’s parliament elects Katalin Novak as president

Newly elected Hungarian President Katalin Novak smiles after taking her oath as representatives of the Hungarian parliament approved her appointment as the new president at the parliament building in Budapest on March 10, 2022. (ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP)

BUDAPEST – The Hungarian parliament on Thursday elected Katalin Novak as the country's first female president for a five-year term, winning over economist Peter Rona in a vote split along party lines.

Novak, nominated by the ruling Fidesz Party, which with its ally, the Christian Democratic People's Party, holds 133 seats in the 199-member parliament, won the election in a vote of 137 to 51. She will take office on May 10.

The Hungarian president, whose duties are largely ceremonial, is elected by the parliament, and a candidate must receive a two-thirds majority of all incumbent members of parliament to be elected in the first round of voting, otherwise a second is held

The Hungarian president, whose duties are largely ceremonial, is elected by the parliament, and a candidate must receive a two-thirds majority of all incumbent members of parliament to be elected in the first round of voting, otherwise a second is held.

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Novak, a former member of the government as minister without portfolio for family affairs, will become Hungary's first female president.

"Hungarians want peace. We women do not want to win the war, we want peace," Novak said, before taking oath in the immense neo-gothic building of the Hungarian parliament.

"Let there be peace, freedom and understanding," she said.

Novak is taking over from incumbent President Janos Ader, who is ending his second term.

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Born in 1977, Novak started her political career in 2001 at the foreign ministry, specializing in European matters. In 2012, she was appointed head of cabinet at the Ministry of Human Resources. In 2014, she was named EMMI's state secretary for family and youth affairs.

In October 2020, Novak became minister without portfolio for family affairs. She then stepped down in December 2021 upon her nomination for president.