Hungary picks constitutional court head for president to resolve scandal

Hungary’s ruling party is nominating Tamas Sulyok, the head of the Constitutional Court, to be the nation’s president after Katalin Novak’s resignation over an abuse scandal this month, Report informs via Bloomberg.

Novak, Hungary’s first female president, quit this month over a pardon she granted to a convict who pressured survivors of sexual abuse in a children’s home to withdraw their testimonies.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been searching for a safer candidate after two of the three presidents nominated by him since 2010 resigned in separate scandals. While the latest pedophilia case triggered mass protests in Budapest, Orban has mostly managed to turn the page in the past week by deflecting the blame to Novak and some of his other allies.

Sulyok, 67, whose nomination was announced by Fidesz party caucus leader Mate Kocsis Thursday, has served on the Constitutional Court for 10 years, including as its leader since 2016.

That period has seen Orban stack large parts of the justice system with his allies. He has rolled back some of his changes in the past year to help unlock €10 billion in funds frozen by the European Union, but remains locked in disputes with the bloc over rule-of-law and graft concerns.

Sulyok has rarely spoken out on politics, though has been a defender of the judicial changes made by Fidesz since 2010, including the introduction of a new constitution in 2012 that critics say rolled back some democratic rights.

Fidesz will nominate Tamas Deutsch, a member of European Parliament and a long-standing ally of Orban, to head its campaign in continent-wide elections this year, Kocsis said. Judit Varga quit from that role after signing off on Novak’s controversial pardon in the abuse case.

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