In May 2022, the five-year term of the President of the Republic of Hungary Janos Áder will come to its end. According to the Hungarian Constitution, the Parliament will have to choose the next president. On December 21st, Viktor Orbán nominated Katalin Novák for the position—a Member of Parliament and Minister of Family Affairs in his government. Thanks to the two-thirds majority of his party Fidesz, he is assured that his candidate will be elected by the deputies.
The choice of Katalin Novák allows him to highlight the work she has done to promote family values in Hungary. They will remain the priority of Novák’s focus, in contrast to Áder for whom environmental issues were the subject of his attention. The promotion of a woman to the highest office also allows Orbán to respond to accusations that his policies are outdated.
Katalin Novák is the mother of three children. She has a degree in economics and law. She was appointed state secretary for Family and Youth Affairs in 2014, before becoming a full minister in October 2020. She is also vice president of the Fidesz party in charge of Foreign Affairs. In all appearances, she is the modern embodiment of a fulfilled femininity that manages to reconcile having a family and raising her children with a political career at the highest level. The so-called success of a woman should, according to her, be measured through a multiplicity of criteria without seeking to compete with men at all costs–a conservative stance that has earned her fierce criticism from left-wing feminists. She is the founder and president of the club “Women for Hungary” (Nők Magyarországért Mozgalom). Her distinguished career has earned her honors from both France, where she was made a Knight of the Legion of Honor), and Poland, where she was elevated to the rank of Commander of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.
The position of President of Hungary, like that of Germany and Italy, is essentially an honorary position. One of the President’s main prerogatives is to appoint the Prime Minister following the parliamentary elections and to make key appointments to the judiciary, namely the appointment of judges and the national prosecutor. If Katalin Novák is elected, Viktor Orbán and his party continue to be able to retain influence over Hungarian institutions, even if they do not win the next parliamentary elections.
As she announced on her Twitter account, her roadmap is extremely clear: to put herself fully at the service of the Hungarian nation and its identity.
Hélène de Lauzun studied at the École Normale Supérieure de Paris. She taught French literature and civilization at Harvard and received a Ph.D. in History from the Sorbonne. She is the author of Histoire de l’Autriche (Perrin, 2021).