Hungarian Parliament confirms new President | News | DW | 02.05.2012
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Hungarian Parliament confirms new President

The parliament in Hungary has confirmed Jan Ader as the new Hungarian president. The choice, though expected, is controversial in some quarters.

Janos Ader

Janos Ader

The Hungarian parliament on Wednesday confirmed Jano Ader, a close long-term ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, as the country's new president.

Ader, who is a co-founder of the Fidesz party and member of the European Parliament since 2009, was elected to a five-year term by a vote of 262-40. The result was expected, though the far-right Jobbik party voted against him and the vote was boycotted by some other opposition parties.

The 52-year-old Ader was nominated by Orban last month following Pal Schmitt's resignation after being stripped of his 1992 doctorate on plagiarism charges. Ader will formally assume office on May 10.

In his first address to parliament after taking the oath, Ader struck a conciliatory note.

"We may have different values, different convictions and faith, but we all have one country, and that is Hungary," he said.

He also warned against putting down others and having double standards.

Growing tensions with EU

The choice of Ader as president is, however, likely to further strain relations between Budapest and the European Union of which it is a member. The EU and civil rights groups fear that Orban and Fidesz, which holds a two-thirds majority in parliament, are trying to monopolize power, with a resulting reduction of basic freedoms and civil rights.

An analyst at the Nezopont Institute in Budapest, Orsolya Szomszed, said Ader was voted into the position because of his fidelity to the government.

"The main criteria for Ader's election was loyalty to the governing majority," he said.

The choice of Ader is also controversial within Hungary itself. The Socialists, the Green LMP and a new faction led by former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany boycotted the vote, saying a key member of the ruling party could not represent national unity as required by the constitution.

A lawyer by training, Ader drafted the government's 2011 overhaul of the judiciary system, which the European Commission has referred to the European Court of Justice over concerns that it limits courts' independence. He also drew up Hungary's new election system, which opposition parties say will tip future elections in Fidesz's favor.

The Hungarian president has a mostly ceremonial role, but is also the head of the army and must sign all legislation into law after it has been approved by parliament.

tj/mz (AP, AFP)