Conservative Christian Novák takes office as president of Hungary


Central Europe

Joe-Lize Brugge, CNE.news

beeld EPA, Szilard Koszticsak

In March, the Hungarian parliament chose its first female president. Katalin Novák, belonging to the same conservative Fidesz party as prime minister Orban, received a two-thirds majority. She will be inaugurated on Tuesday. Who is the new Hungarian president?

Katalin Novák is well-known for her conservative view on family life. As the current Minister of Family Affairs, she made it clear that she fervently supports traditional roles for men and women. Earlier she stated in a video that women should appreciate their role as child-bearers and caregivers and not strive after equal payments at their jobs.

Furthermore, in an interview with Hungary Today, she stated that she wants to make Hungary a family-friendly country. It is also the view that Novák presents on her website. "I consider it my primary goal to give mothers a choice. They should have the freedom to decide for themselves when they want to return to the world of work. I aim to create a work-life balance to give real help to young Hungarians and family life situations."

Her policies as Minister of Family Affairs reflect this view. For example, Novák introduced several financial regulations that are beneficial for families. Women who have given birth to more than four children are exempted from income tax, large families can receive an interest-free mortgage or a grant to buy a larger house, and grandparents are rewarded for taking care of their grandchildren.

According to Novák, these policies have been fruitful. "The number of childbirths, but also abortions, the infant mortality rate, the number of marriages and divorces have all moved in a favourable direction", she said to Hungary Today.

Krestan Dness reports that the number of marriages has doubled in 10 years, while the divorce rate is the lowest in the last 60 years. The number of abortions decreased by 41 per cent in 10 years, while the birth rate has grown by 25 per cent.

However, other sources seem to nuance her optimism. In 2020, 1 out of 5 pregnancies were terminated in Hungary. In comparison, about 1 out of 7 pregnancies were ended in The Netherlands.

Furthermore, the total number of the Hungarian population continues to decline, as is reported by Statista and Daily News Hungary among others. Thus, the ultimate goal of the family policies of the Hungarian government is not yet reached.

Christian faith

Novák explicitly states that she is driven by her Christian faith, including in her support for traditional family life, even when that leads to harsh criticism. "The point is whether we think about the future in the short term or the long term in the light of eternity, she said to Krestan Dness. "If we keep eternity in mind, we don't have to worry so much about the criticism we receive."

Moreover, Novák says that she feels that her office gives her the responsibility and opportunity to serve in God's kingdom. "Every time I recite the Lord's Prayer, I realise that the kingdom, the power, and the glory are not mine; they are not ours but belong to God. It is also clear that power, office and mandate are given to people by God's grace. This insight gives me strength, energy, a real sense of security."

Task of the president

After her inauguration, Katalin Novák will be the President of Hungary. She succeeds former President János Áder, who served a term from 2017 to 2022. A salient detail is that Novák with 44 years will be the youngest EU president.

The President of Hungary mainly has a ceremonial role, as most important decisions about the legislation are the responsibility of the Prime Minister. Currently, this latter function is fulfilled by Victor Orban. However, as President, Novák will be able to veto legislation or send it to the Constitutional Court for review.

Personal life

Novák earned degrees in the economic field, and international politics and law in the United States and France, Knestan Dness writes. She speaks German, Spanish, English and French. In her spare time, she likes reading and running.

Furthermore, the new President of Hungary is married and has three teenage children.

Political career

The political area is not a new world for Katalin Novák. The 44-year-old Hungarian is currently Minister for the Family. However, she has been in the field since 2001, when she began her political career at the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There she was responsible for European affairs.

Between 2004 and 2010, Novák paused her career. She spent that period at home, taking care of her children.

In 2010, she became an adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. She held this function until 2012, when she became a Member of Parliament.

Furthermore, she served as the Vice-Chairwoman of the conservative Fidesz party. Since October 2020, she has been the head of the Ministry of the Family.



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