Prime minister Viktor Orbán congratulates Zsolt Andras Varga, the new head of the Kuria after the vote – Photo: MTI

Varga elected with 135 votes in favour and 26 against in a secret ballot

Opposition parties reject presidential nominee for top court head

The leftist Democratic Coalition (DK) stayed away from a parliamentary vote on the head of the Kuria, Hungary's supreme court, while green LMP rejected the appointment of Zsolt Andras Varga, nominated by President Janos Ader earlier this month.

DK lawmaker Laszlo Sebian-Petrovszki told an online press conference that Varga had “never been a judge and not passed a single sentence”.

Sebian-Petrovszki also noted that Varga had been the chief public prosecutor’s deputy for nearly ten years and in this capacity he had “assisted in scandalous cases” during the Fidesz governments. The deputy said that “Fidesz’s trying to make a prosecutor chief judge” was unprecedented in Europe, and insisted that it would be a “profanation” of the principle of the separation of government branches.

DK will appeal against the procedure to the European Commission and other forums, Sebian-Petrovszki said.

In a statement, LMP group leader Lorant Laszlo Keresztes also cited Varga’s lack of experience. He noted that the National Judiciary Council had also rejected to endorse the nomination.

Koloman Brenner, Deputy House Speaker for the conservative opposition Jobbik party, called the nomination a “disgrace”, adding that Varga had been “the right hand” of Chief Public Prosecutor Peter Polt and had so far worked in a “dictatorial system based on following orders”. Speaking at a press conference in front of Parliament, Brenner called the nomination “another level of undermining the judiciary, thereby dismantling Hungarian democracy”.

Varga was eventually elected with 135 votes in favour and 26 against in a secret ballot. The mandate of Peter Darak, the incumbent head of the Kuria, will expire on January 1, 2021. Varga, who took his oath of office after the vote, will assume his post on January 2, 2021.

Speaking to MTI after the vote, Varga said he viewed his nomination and election to head the supreme court as an expression of trust in him by Hungary.

He vowed to do his best to live up to the trust placed in him as a member of the community of the Kuria’s judges.

Varga said he would spend the next two and a half months getting to know the opinions of the court’s judges on the future of the institution while sharing his own views.

Under Hungary’s constitution, the president of the Kuria is elected for a nine-year term by a two-thirds majority of lawmakers.

Varga graduated from the Faculty of Law at Budapest’s Eotvos Lorand University in 1995 before going on to obtain a PhD degree there. He was habilitated at the Pazmany Peter Catholic University. Varga has worked as a university professor since 2012.

He worked at several prosecutor’s offices in Budapest before joining the Parliamentary Commissioner’s Office. He later became a member of the Venice Commission and served as a constitutional judge from 2014. Between 2017 and 2019 he was vice-chair of the Venice Commission’s subcommittee for international law, and later the subcommittee for constitutional law.

Varga is also a member of the public body of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.


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