|5th President of Hungary|
10 May 2012
|Prime Minister||Viktor Orbán|
|Preceded by||László Kövér (Acting)|
|Speaker of the National Assembly|
18 June 1998 – 15 May 2002
|Preceded by||Zoltán Gál|
|Succeeded by||Katalin Szili|
|Born||9 May 1959
|Alma mater||Eötvös Loránd University|
Life and career
János Áder was born into a Roman Catholic family in the small town of Csorna in Győr-Moson-Sopron County, as the son of shop assistant János Áder, Sr. (1932–1980) and accountant Terézia Szabó (born 1936), who worked for the local hospital and retired from there as deputy director for financial affairs. Áder grew up in his birthplace, he finished his elementary studies there.Beginning in 1978, he studied law for five years at the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. From 1986 to 1990, he was a research fellow at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences’ Sociological Research Institute.
Áder, who has a law degree, was an early member of Fidesz (Alliance of Young Democrats), at the time a liberal coalition of democrats (although it has shifted to center-right as of 2012). He served as a party legal expert. Áder was a member of the Opposition Round Table which, in 1989, negotiated an end to single-party rule in Hungary.
In the 1990 and 1994 elections he was head of the Fidesz campaign. He was a member of the Hungarian Parliament (Országgyűlés) from 1990 to 2009, and was the Speaker of the National Assembly of Hungary from 18 June 1998 to 15 May 2002. He was the leader of the Fidesz caucus opposition from 2002 to 2006. In 2011, he helped draft legislation which changed the role of the Hungarian judiciary, leading the European Commission to bring the matter of Hungarian judicial independence before the European Court of Justice. He also helped draft the legislation which revised Hungarian electoral laws. He served as Deputy Speaker from 9 September 1997 to 17 June 1998 and 18 June 1998 to 15 May 2002.
In the 2009 European Parliament election, he became a member of the European Parliament. He was elected a deputy chairman of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety on 23 January 2012.
On 16 April 2012, Áder was selected by the majority of the parliament, and became the new President of Hungary after the resignation of Pál Schmitt. He was elected on 2 May to a five-year term by a vote of 262–40, and assumed office on 10 May 2012. He is consequently the first president to hold that office since the new Hungarian constitution took effect on 1 January 2012.
János Áder met Shimon Peres at a working dinner in Jerusalem on 15 July 2012, and invited the Israeli President for an official visit to Hungary. Áder told that their conversation had focused on deepening scientific cooperation between the two countries, in which Hungary could benefit from Israel’s experience in areas such as farming and water management. On 16 July, he told a commemoration of Raoul Wallenberg in the Knesset, that The Holocaust is “the tragedy of mankind without parallel”. He said the rise of anti-Semitism in several countries in Europe had been discussed, he said, “adding that steps against such phenomena must be taken together”.
Later, The Simon Wiesenthal Centre asked Áder in an open letter sent to MTI to help bring alleged Nazi war criminal László Csizsik-Csatáry to justice “as quickly as possible”.
Áder said Hungary’s new constitution guarantees constitutional rights and catered for fourth generation human rights in his address of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly in New York City on 25 September 2012. These include Article P, which states that “natural resources, especially the farmland, forests and the drinking water supplies, the biodiversity – in particular native plant and animal species – and the cultural assets shall form part of the nation’s common heritage; the State and every person shall be obliged to protect, sustain and preserve them for future generations”. He mentioned especially the water supply, and how short-sighted and irrational it was the way “we pollute our waters”. Áder also told Hungary has taken active part in the work of the UN’s Friends of Water working group. Hungary will host a conference on water and sanitation in Budapest in 2013.
He sent the election procedures bill to the Constitutional Court for preliminary legal review on 6 December 2012. He stressed in a statement that the bill passed by Parliament on November 26 guarantees free and democratic elections. On 3 January 2013, the Court ruled that the law curtailed voting rights to an unjustifiable degree, due to the fact that the requirement for voters to register prior to going to the polls applies to every voter. As a result, Antal Rogán announced the government will not introduce voter pre-registration in the 2014 parliamentary election.
On 13 March 2013, Áder said he would sign the controversial fourth amendment to Hungary’s constitution. He stated that he had made his decision in view of his promise that as President of Hungary he would carry out the responsibilities conferred on him by the constitution without fail. “It is my unequivocal constitutional duty to sign and declare this constitutional amendment as law. This is regardless of whose tastes the changes meet and regardless of whether I like it or not“, he said. Áder read letters, messages and the “clever and sometimes indignant and politically-charged arguments of experts”. “I was guided by the single goal which is in harmony with my presidential oath: to represent the constitutional order and the unity of the nation”, he said.Accordingly, Áder signed the constitutional amendment on 25 March 2013.
In June 2013, Áder apologised in the national parliament of Serbia for Hungarians’ war crimes against civilian Serbs in Vojvodina in the Second World War. Some days earlier the Serbian lawmakers adopted a declaration, which condemned the massacre in Vojvodina in 1944-45 and resolutions made under the principle of collective guilt during the war. Áder said “although nobody can undo those crimes, we still believe that forgiveness following a mutual apology can point beyond reconciliation. Because we, Hungarians of today, and Serbs of today, stand united as one on the side of the innocent victims. The legacy we want to pass on to our children is that of life, justice and cooperation, and not that of death, untruth and hatred“.
Continuing his efforts in the European Parliament, Áder emphasized the importance of environmental protection and the fight against global warming. In January 2015, he announced the establishment of an Environmental Sustainability Directorate within the President’s Office. Csaba Kőrösi, former Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations was appointed director of the organization. Áder explained the issue of sustainability must be arch over governmental terms and there is need to put the Kyoto agreement on a new basis. Opposition news portal Index.hu claimed Áder intended to candidate for the position of Secretary-General of the United Nations during the 2016 selection process to succeed Ban Ki-moon, and his climate policy and efforts were part of his international campaign. Áder would not comment on the assumption, and his alleged ambition of candidacy had never materialized.
In December 2015, he delivered a speech during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, where he called the next 25 years as the “period when the impacts of climate change posed a direct threat to human civilization.” He welcomed the ratification of the Paris Agreement, which he called a very important step for Hungary, “as the Carpathian Basin is more affected by climate change than several other European countries”, he said. In June 2016, Áder wrote a letter to the heads of state of the world’s top ten carbon dioxide-emitting countries to persuade them to tighten their reduction targets. Jobbik politician Lajos Kepli accused Áder, as while he fights for the interests of environmental protection at the international level, he failed to criticize the Orbán government for their precluding domestic policy. “[Áder] sees no problem with the taxation on solar panels, he is not bothered by the arbitrary cessation of energy efficiency tenders […]”, Kepli argued.
In contrast to his predecessor Schmitt, who during his presidency of almost two years did not send any bill which had been voted on by the National Assembly back for consideration by the legislature, nor submit any to the Constitutional Court for judicial review, Áder proved to be a counterweight to the Orbán government on a number of important issues. Beyond the withdrawal of election procedures bill in December 2012, Áder refused to sign the new land law which was intended to pass the right of management of national parks to the National Land Fund Managing Organization (NFA), in accordance with his environmental objectives Áder also used his veto power in March 2016 on the controversial bill which would have declared public funds allocated to the foundations of the Hungarian National Bank (MNB) as “private funds”. Left-wing liberal journalist Gábor Miklósi (Index.hu) summarized Áder’s presidency with that argument that the president remained silent on the really important matters and “his rare criticism does not hinder but legitimizes Hungary’s increasingly authoritarian political system”.
The rejection of electoral registration and reclassification of MNB public funds, were serious political setbacks for premier Viktor Orbán, who, as a result, seriously considered the replacement of Ádár by a more obedient candidate in the 2017 presidential election. In April 2016, pro-government Origo.hu claimed Áder’s dismissal after the expiry of his mandate in May 2017 was “almost certain”. In May 2016, a microphone recorded the words of MP György Rubovszky, who said during a parliamentary committee meeting that there was no way to re-elect Áder as “Viktor does not allow it”. On 8 December 2016, the opposition ATV claimed that Minister of Human ResourcesZoltán Balog had been selected by Orbán and the party leadership as successor to Áder. The news portal added that the passive attitude of Áder during the October 2016 migrant quota referendum campaign was also harmful for the “relationship of trust” between him and Orbán.
In contrast to ATV, Fidesz-backed Origo.hu reported three days later that Áder would remain as President. The news portal added that re-election was a decision only for Áder, who had asked for time to consider his candidature. On 21 December, it was reported that Orbán had requested from the party leadership the official nomination of János Áder as president, during an presidency meeting in Dobogókő. Parliamentary group leader Lajos Kósa officially announced Áder’s nomination on the same day. On 29 December, Áder announced that he undertake the nomination, calling his presidential role as “constitutional service”. An Index.hu analysis argued Balog was not replaceable as head of the Ministry of Human Resources, while Áder eventually did not cause a “big trouble” during his first term, as he supported the most important laws, thus his re-election “did not represent a significant political risk” to Orbán.
Áder was elected for a second 5 year-term by the Hungarian Parliament by a vote of 131–39 on 13 March 2017. His opponent was legal scholar László Majtényi, non-partisan candidate of the left-wing opposition parties. Since Árpád Göncz, who served as President from 1990 to 2000, Áder became the first head of state of Hungary who was elected for a second term. Áder took his presidential oath of office on 8 May 2017.
On 28 March 2017, the Hungarian government submitted a bill to Parliament to amend Act CCIV of 2011 on National Higher Education. The bill aimed to introduce new regulations for foreign-operating universities, several of which affected exclusively the Central European University (CEU). Despite numerous international and domestic critics by scholars and academic institutions, and a huge protest attended by thousands of protesters in Budapest on 2 April, Áder signed the educational amendment into law on 10 April. He justified his move that he did not found a conflict with the constitution or international treaties. Áder’s step sparked a spontaneous protest in front of the Sándor Palace, where demonstrators reviled the president. At the same time, Wikipedia pages about Áder in several languages were vandalized.
János Áder has a sister Annamária (born 1960), a biology and geography high school teacher, who married footballer and manager Gábor Pölöskei. She was appointed head of the Klebelsberg Institution Maintenance Centre (KLIK) on 1 March 2016.
Since 1984, Áder is married to Anita Herczegh, who works as a judge. They have three daughters and a son. Áder’s father-in-law, Géza Herczegh, was a judge of the International Court of Justice at The Hague from 1993 to 2003.
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