The 46-year-old conservative Novak announced in a televised speech on Saturday, February 10, that she is resigning from the position of the country’s president, where she has been since 2022.
“I signed the pardon, which caused confusion and anxiety among many people,” Novak said, admitting he was wrong.
Novák, a close ally of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, announced her decision to resign more than a week after public outrage over her pardoning of the former deputy director of a state orphanage in 2023. In 2018, the man was sentenced to more than three years in prison for helping to hide the sexual crimes against children committed by the director of the orphanage. The director of the orphanage was sentenced to eight years in prison for exploiting at least ten children between 2004 and 2016.
The former deputy director of the children’s home in Novák was pardoned together with about 20 other prisoners in connection with the visit of Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church to Hungary in April 2023. Novak previously denied wrongdoing and declined calls for an official explanation for his decision.
Most of Hungary’s opposition parties called for Novak’s resignation. The largest of the parties – the Democratic Coalition – initiated an ethics procedure against him in the parliament. The members of the Democratic Coalition have also given the letter to the representatives of the Catholic Church in Hungary to deliver it to Pope Francis. The letter says that by granting pardons during the papal visit, Novak has “served sin”.
A protest against Novak’s decision is planned for Friday near the presidential palace in Budapest.