Tens of thousands protest following Hungarian president's resignation

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Budapest protesters demand change following a child abuse case 

Hungarian influencers organized a gathering of over 50,000 protesters in Budapest last Friday, rallying for a shift in the nation's apathetic political attitude following the resignation of the president, Katalin Novak, due to controversy surrounding a pardon granted in a child sexual abuse case.

Fotó: Németh Dániel/444

The demonstrators converged upon Heroes' Square, advocating for reforms within Hungary's child protection system and a change in far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's governing structure.

The protest unfolded amidst an unprecedented political scandal that has rocked the administration of Orbán. "How many more similar issues are there that have been covered up?", the organizers asked in a social media post. 

The reason behind the decision to grant a pardon to an individual implicated in the concealment of sexual abuse within a children’s facility remains unknown. In an attempt to regain control of the narrative,  Fidesz, the governing party, highlighted the resignation of the president in response to errors within its ranks, in contrast to perceived lapses on the part of the opposition. 

Orban addresses Hungary after his biggest political scandal

PM Viktor Orbán made his first public appearance during his annual State of the Nation address on Saturdays since the resignation of Hungary's president following a scandal surrounding a presidential pardon.

Orbán, known for his nationalist stance, finds himself under mounting pressure from various fronts, with his radical approach on the global stage sparking increasing discontent among European Union and NATO partners. Simultaneously, widespread public controversy has swept through Hungary following the granting of a pardon by the president to a convicted individual in a case of child sexual abuse.

During his speech, Orbán promptly acknowledged the resignation of former President Katalin Novák last week. He said that the outset of 2024 "could not have been worse," describing her departure as a "nightmare" for the country.

Swedish Prime Minister to visit Budapest

Swedish PM Ulf Kristersson is set to visit Budapest ahead of Sweden's forthcoming ratification of its NATO accession on Monday, as confirmed by Bertalan Havasi, Viktor Orban's press chief, in a statement. While Kristersson himself initially revealed the visit during a trip to Warsaw earlier in the week, the precise timing had remained unclear until now.

Reports indicate that Orbán and the Swedish prime minister had a brief encounter in Brussels a few weeks ago to discuss the optimal timing for the visit. Kristersson stipulated that approval should come before the visit, yet the Fidesz faction insisted that the accession could only be sanctioned after Kristersson visited Budapest. Eventually, both parties compromised, with the Fidesz faction declaring its backing for Swedish NATO membership, and Kristersson committing to his Budapest visit before the vote.

According to the statement, the meeting agenda will focus on defense and security policy collaboration between Hungary and Sweden, alongside preparations for Hungary's forthcoming EU presidency. Havasi underscored that the strategic agenda for the European Union will also be on the table. The visit will end in a joint press conference featuring Orbán and  Kristersson.