Secular Hungary

Sunday, 27 June 2010

By the grace of god

We not only have a new government, we'll also get a new president soon. Though the Hungarian president's function is mostly representational, one of his duties is to ensure that all new laws respect the constitution, i.e. he's supposed to act as one element of the checks and balances. He (there has never been a she yet) is elected for a period of five years by the parliament (while the parliament's period is four years), and the term of the present one, Mr László Sólyom expires in August.
The ruling party, Fidesz, decided to propose Mr Pál Schmitt as president, who used to be a world class fencer. He also was head of the Hungarian Olympic Committe, when the committe decided (against the wish of the athletes) to boycott the 1984 games in Los Angeles, and he acted as director of the posh Astoria Hotel and -- also during the communist era -- as a state secretary. However, this career path did not pose an obstacle to a party career in the otherwise very vocally anti communist Fidesz. The crucial factor for the continuity of his career obviously is his widely known lack of any spine whatsoever.
Still, he does not credit Fidesz for his new vocation: "And if God has entrusted me with presidency, I will do it and will be up to it, together with my wife, the first lady." ("S ha már a jóisten rám testálja az elnökséget, csinálni, bírni fogom, a feleségemmel, a first ladyvel együtt.")