President of Hungary


President János Áder.

János Áder has been the president of the republic (köztársasági elnök) of Hungary since May 10, 2012. The National Assembly elected Áder as president in place of László Kövér, who had served as interim head of state for five weeks following the resignation of Pál Schmitt in April 2010.

The Presidency 

The office of the presidency was established with the proclamation of the Third Hungarian Republic in 1989 to replace that of Presidential Council Chairman (Elnöki Tanács Elnöke), which had functioned as head of state in the Hungarian People’s Republic over the previous forty years of communist rule.

The National Assembly elects presidents to five-year terms. Candidates must receive two-thirds of votes cast in the first round of balloting to win presidential elections. If no candidate wins two-thirds of votes cast in the first round, the top two candidates advance to a second round of balloting in which only a majority of votes is required for victory.

Official residence of the president of Hungary: the Sándor Palace.

Official residence of the president of Hungary: the Sándor Palace in Budapest.

The main duties of the president of Hungary are: to represent the Hungarian state at both the national and international level; to sign international treaties; to determine the dates for general elections; to initiate referenda; to confer state awards; to grant pardons; to make decisions regarding citizenship; and to sign National Assembly legislation into law.

The president has the authority to once either send legislation to the Constitutional Court for review or back to the National Assembly for reconsideration. If either body returns such legislation, the president must sign it.

The official residence and offices of the president of Hungary are located at the Sándor Palace on Castle Hill in Budapest.

The Presidency during the Second and Third Orbán Governments

Former president Pál Schmitt.

Former president Pál Schmitt.

János Áder is the fourth person to serve as president of Hungary since Prime Minister Viktor Orbán returned to power in 2010, following current National Assembly Speaker László Kövér, Pál Schmitt and László Sólyom.

Representatives from the FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) alliance used their two-thirds majority in the National Assembly to elect Áder president in the first round of voting on May 2, 2012. The opposition did not nominate any candidates for president and either voted against Áder (in the case of Jobbik) or did not participate in the balloting (in the case of the democratic opposition).

On March 13, 2017, Fidesz-KDNP National Assembly representatives reelected Áder to serve another five-year term as president.

Fidesz-KDNP National Assembly representatives elected Pál Schmitt to serve as president of Hungary in the first round of voting on August 6, 2010.

Schmitt resigned from office on April 2, 2012 after Semmelweis University revoked his doctoral degree on the grounds that he had plagiarized almost all of his 1992 dissertation “Analysis of the Program of the Modern Olympic Games” (Az újkori olimpiai játékok programjának elemzése) from Bulgarian sports researcher Nikolay Georgiev and German sport sociologist Klaus Heinemann.

Former president László Sólyom.

Former president László Sólyom.

László Sólyom served as president of Hungary during the first nine weeks of the Second Orbán government formed in May 2010. Fidesz-KDNP supported Sólyom in his successful bid for the presidency in 2006, though did not nominate him to serve a second term in office. The refusal of Sólyom to initially sign three laws that Fidesz-KDNP National Assembly representatives adopted in June and July 2010 may have played a role in the party alliance’s decision not to support his reelection as head of state. Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén explained why Fidesz-KDNP had chosen to support Schmitt as head of state rather than Sólyom, a legal scholar who served as president of the Constitutional Court for eight years in the 1990s (source in Hungarian):

Over the recent period we have seen a very honorable aristocratic president at the height of an ivory tower. It is the time for a plebian attitude to assert itself instead of the aristocratic attitude. 

At a National Assembly hearing regarding his nomination for president in June 2010, Schmitt told Fidesz-KDNP representatives that “I will be a motor for legislation, not an impediment” (source in Hungarian). During his two years as head of state, Pál Schmitt never invoked his authority to send approved legislation back to the National Assembly for reconsideration or to the Constitutional Court for review.

Since becoming president, János Áder has frequently invoked this authority.

Former interim president National Assembly Speaker László Kövér.

Former interim president National Assembly Speaker László Kövér.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán dispelled widespread speculation that he would become president of Hungary following the expiration of Áder’s mandate in 2017, declaring in May 2015 that the “The chance that I will be president of the republic are under zero” (source in Hungarian). The opposition daily Népszabadság reported that leading Fidesz officials had informed the newspaper that former interim head of state, National Assembly Speaker László Kövér, would likely be the party’s nominee for president if Áder does not seek a second term in office (source in Hungarian).

Last updated: May 26, 2016.

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