Hungarian President Katalin Novak has announced her resignation from office amidst a growing public backlash over her decision to pardon a man involved in a child sexual abuse case. In a national televised address on Saturday, Novak admitted her mistake, acknowledging that the lack of reasoning behind the pardon had raised doubts about the zero-tolerance policy on pedophilia.
The controversy erupted after Novak pardoned several individuals in April 2023, including the deputy director of a children’s home who aided the former director in concealing his crimes. The former director was convicted of sexually abusing underage boys between 2004 and 2016, while the deputy director received a three-year sentence.
Protests erupted in Budapest, with thousands demanding Novak’s resignation. Opposition parties also joined the chorus, calling for her immediate departure from office.
Novak, a close ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, faced mounting pressure to step down. Her televised apology to victims and their families highlighted her regret over the situation.
This resignation marks the end of Novak’s tenure as president, less than two years after assuming the role. Despite her apology and advocacy for child protection, the controversy surrounding the pardon ultimately led to her departure from office.