Why Hungary President Resigns

Hungary’s parliament accepted the country’s embattled president’s resignation with a vote of 338 in favor, five opposed and six abstentions on Monday afternoon.

The opposition criticized the president for a prolonged scandal, while government MPs pointed fingers at the opposition for using the plagiarism scandal as an excuse to undermine the president.

President Pal Schmitt resigned earlier on Monday after being stripped of his doctorate when it was found that he had copied nearly all of his paper from those by other researchers. Schmitt had argued that requirements 20 years ago, when he wrote the thesis, were different than today.

The governing Fidesz Party and its tiny ally, the Christian Democrats, who together hold a two-thirds majority in Parliament, proposed a Monday evening meeting of all five political parties with seats in parliament to discuss nominating a successor to Schmitt.

Under Hungarian law, a new president must be chosen by parliament within 30 days. During the interim, Speaker of Parliament Laszlo Kover will handle the presidential duties and Fidesz Party vice-president will substitute for Kover as Speaker.

One opposition party, the far-right Jobbik, has already proposed presidential elections through a popular vote instead of by parliament, while the Socialist MSZP party is recommending a four-fifths majority in choosing the new president. Under current law, a two-thirds majority of the Members of Parliament is desirable, but if that cannot be attained, a simple majority is sufficient in the third round of balloting.

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