Hungarian PM names party-mate as presidential choice

10:08, June 24, 2010      

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban named Pal Schmitt, currently Speaker of Parliament, as his choice to be the country's president, his spokesman announced on Wednesday.

Schmitt responded immediately, saying he would joyfully accept the nomination.

President in Hungary are elected by parliament, not by public vote, and Orban's Fidesz party holds a two-thirds majority, which makes Schmitt, a two-time Olympic champion fencer and a former Fidesz Vice-President of the European Parliament, a shoo-in.

The role of the Hungarian president is mostly ceremonious, although the current office-holder, Laszlo Solyom did manage to put clout behind the office by returning bills he questioned to parliament and turning over ones he disliked to the Constitutional Court. He was also a vocal environmentalist and vociferous advocate for Hungarian minorities living in neighboring countries.

Parliament will officially name the candidates for the post on June 28 and vote for the president on June 29. The opposition Socialists have nominated Andrs Balogh, a historian and Hungary' s current ambassador to Thailand, for the post, so MPs will likely be able to choose between the two. A two-thirds majority is required to elect the president on first ballot, and Fidesz holds that majority, rendering the vote all but formal.

The new president is expected to take the oath of office on Tuesday, but will not officially become president until Aug. 5.

Solyom's mandate expires at midnight on Aug. 4.

Source: Xinhua


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