Hungary’s President Katalin Novak resigned on Saturday after intensifying pressure for pardoning a man convicted of colluding to conceal a sex abuse case in a children’s home, according to Al Jazeera.
Announcing her resignation, Novak said, “I made a mistake…Today is the last day that I address you as president,” she said in a speech broadcast on state television.
“I made a decision to grant a pardon last April, believing that the convict did not abuse the vulnerability of children whom he had overseen. I made a mistake as the pardon and the lack of reasoning was suitable to trigger doubts over the zero tolerance that applies to paedophilia,” she added.
On Friday, at least a thousand people protested in the nation’s capital, demanding her resignation. Opposition parties in Hungary also demanded her resignation.
Ahead of Pope Francis’ visit in April 2023, Novak decided to pardon over two dozen people, including the deputy director of a children’s home who helped the former director conceal his crimes.
In 2022, Endre K was sentenced to three years and four months in prison. She was also barred from participating in any activities or working in any position that involved minors for a period of five years. However, Katalin Novak was released and allowed to resume her profession after securing a pardon, according to Al Jazeera.
Novak is a former family minister and close supporter of Conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban. She was also Hungary’s first female president and the youngest ever to assume the role.
Her departure from the presidency was a rare show of political unrest for Fidesz, Hungary’s nationalist party that has governed with a constitutional majority since 2010.