Tamas Sulyok - Photo: alkotmanybirosag.hu

Fidesz-Christian Democrats to nominate Tamas Sulyok for head of state

The ruling parties have decided to nominate Tamas Sulyok, the current head of the Constitutional Court, for president of the republic, Mate Kocsis, the Fidesz group leader, said on Thursday in Balatonalmadi, where the ruling Fidesz and Christian Democratic parties held a meeting of their parliamentary group.

MPs will decide on accepting the resignation of the outgoing head of state, Katalin Novak, on Monday, he said.

Kocsis said it would be preferable to appoint Sulyok as soon as possible, but the timing also depended on whether the opposition parties decided to nominate a candidate for the post, and more would be known once a meeting of the house committee meeting is held on Friday.

He said the head of the top court embodied “great authority” and was someone that everyone could take seriously.

Meanwhile, new members of the top court will be elected in line with established parliamentary procedures, he said.

Also, Kocsis announced that Tamas Deutsch, who has headed the Fidesz delegation in the European Parliament, will lead the Fidesz party’s list in the European parliamentary elections. The rest of the EP list and candidates running in the local council elections will be decided by Fidesz’s national board in March, he said, adding that the party’s candidate for mayor of Budapest will be named then, too.

The Fidesz parliamentary group leader called on the left wing to put an end to “public violence, bullying and lies”.

Commenting on domestic political developments, Kocsis told the press conference that Laszlo Varju of the opposition Democratic Coalition and Andras Fekete-Gyor of Momentum should quit public life.

Noting that Varju was convicted of assault and Fekete-Gyor was sentenced for a violent act against an official, he said that anyone convicted of acts such as disorderly conduct and causing bodily harm should step down from their public duties.

Kocsis insisted that acts of public aggression were increasing, and he referred to the recent actions by the antifa movement in Hungary. He said political responsibility must be taken in the absence of legal responsibility, and he referred to Andras Jambor and the Szikra Movement, saying that while he had not been convicted, he should also step down from public life.

Regarding the issue of child protection, he said a second child protection law package will be debated in the spring session, involving the proposed amendment of around 20 laws. Penalties for crimes against children will be tightened further, he said, adding that proposals would include scrapping the statute of limitations in the case of sex crimes committed against anyone under the age of 18 as well as the possibility of parole. Further, such criminals would never again receive a certificate of attesting to the absence of a police record.

Anyone who commits crimes of child abuse will be stained for life, he added.

Regarding Sweden’s NATO accession, he said the impending visit of the Swedish Prime Minister and talks over the past few days had taken the bilateral relationship “in a very good direction”. “This was the gesture we were waiting for,” he said, adding that he did not fear that MPs would withhold their vote for Sweden’s accession to the alliance. “We presented our earlier grievances, but now it’s right to step beyond this and open a new chapter with the Swedes,” he said.

Answering a question about the recent presidential pardon that led to Katalin Novak’s resignation, Kocsis said the decision “includes no justification”, and questions about why the person granted a pardon “can only be answered by the person that made the decision”. “The two people who signed the pardon have taken responsibility for their mistake and have resigned,” he said.

Concerning Reformed Church Bishop Zoltan Balog’s role in the case Kocsis said “the church should make an internal decision” adding that “the state cannot interfere with internal affairs of the church”.

Asked if Novak had granted pardons in other cases that could have caused a similar uproar, Kocsis said: “It wouldn’t be fair to scrutinise Novak’s pardons alone; such an investigation would have to go back to 1990”. He added, however, that a probe could be difficult because “pardons do not need to be justified”.

Concerning claims recently laid by the ex-husband of former Justice Minister Judit Varga, Kocsis said he knew Peter Magyar personally, and “his remarks are rants by an offended person”.

Referring to a planned amendment to the child protection law, Kocsis said a “completely new” child protection system would be introduced with “clear rules and controls”. He said there were problems in child protection, but warned against a general bias under which “everybody working in child protection should be stigmatised as criminals”. “There are many fair and honest people working in child protection, but some sick and perverted people might have infiltrated, who must be removed by every means”.

Answering a question on the subject, Kocsis said Hungary “is sure to come under attack by Brussels for tightening the child protection law.

Kocsis also said there did not appear to be any need to tighten the law on the sovereignty protection law in the spring session of parliament.

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