The new president of Hungary: Pál Schmitt

It was no great surprise that Viktor Orbán nominated Pál Schmitt, who has been occupying the position of speaker of the house for less than two months and will continue to do so until August 5. Rumors were circulating even before the elections that Orbán's favorite man is Pál Schmitt, whose life should be an example for people who want to make a spectacular career by any means.

He was born in 1942 and at the age of 13, just about the right age for a future fencer, he started to learn the art of épée. Épée is similar to foil but it has a stiffer blade, a larger bell guard, and is heavier. The technique is also somewhat different because, as opposed to fencing with foil, in épée the entire body is a valid target area. Opinions vary about how good a fencer he was. According to some accounts his fellow fencers had a low opinion of his abilities and they claim that in the two Olympics (1968 and 1972) he attended as a member of the gold-winning Hungarian épée team he played no important role. As one blogger said, he mostly sat and was the least valuable player on the team. However, he couldn't have been a total slouch because he won an individual gold at the world championships in 1971.

According to the same blogger he and a fellow fencer, both eighteen years old, while at a meet at Duisburg in 1961 wanted to ask for political asylum because they were not admitted to medical school. In the end nothing came of their plan but apparently Béla Bay, the famous fencing master, told the story to János Kádár and György Aczél, Kádár's right-hand man and architect of the regime's cultural policies, and asked them whether they could do something for these youngsters. According to this version, this is how Schmitt ended up as a student of economics.  These rumors may have some truth to them, but the fact is that Schmitt was admitted to the Karl Marx University of Economics in 1960, not 1961 or after. He graduated in 1965.

As soon as he graduated he began working in the hotel industry where he made quite a career for himself. He ended up being deputy director of two important hotels of the day: the Astoria and the Fórum.

In 1981 he left the hotel business and moved on to sports management. By 1983 he was the deputy director of the National Office of Physical Education and Sports, a very high position with deputy ministerial rank. That's why the Slovak liberal paper Sme pointed out that this is the first time that a man who held a high government post in the Kádár regime will be the president of the republic.

Schmitt's official biography is short and sweet and forgets to mention certain events, some admittedly at the level of rumor, that Schmitt doesn't like to remember. For example, apparently Schmitt wanted to become president of the International Olympic Committee. So he asked for the post of ambassador to Madrid to be close to Juan Antonio Samaranch, the seventh president of the IOC. Five years later, in 1999, he made sure that he was transferred to Bern because he wanted to be close to the headquarters of the IOC. In fact, in 2001 he ran for the post but ended up fourth in the race.

Apparently at this point he offered his services to MSZP, although this is not how Schmitt himself remembers it. According to his version, which appeared in Magyar Nemzet (June 18, 2002), Ildikó Lendvai, who then was party chief of Budapest, and Tibor Bakony, deputy party chief, approached him to be the MSZP candidate for lord mayor of Budapest. When Ildikó Lendvai was asked about this offer, her answer was "asked him the hangman/kérte a hóhér"–meaning it was a brazen lie.

Rebuffed by MSZP, he then decided to run as an "independent" with Fidesz backing. He lost pretty badly, but for one reason or another Orbán decided that Schmitt might be useful later on. Shortly after the 2002 elections he "gave up his independence, joined Fidesz and immediately became deputy party chief. A year later at the first European parliamentary elections he headed the Fidesz list. Five years later, after a not particularly distinguished career as a member of the Fidesz team, he no longer headed the list, but he nonetheless became one of the deputy speakers of the European parliament. In 2010 he became a member of the Hungarian parliament and was catapulted into the seat of speaker of the house. It didn't take long before he was nominated by Viktor Orbán for the job of president.

Friends and foes alike point out that Schmitt is a pliable fellow (someone called him "a man made out of rubber") and is quite ready to serve anyone if that serves his purpose. He is right now very grateful and already assured the Fidesz parliamentary delegation that "he will not be an obstacle to the legislative momentum of the parliament." In fact, he will be "its motor." In brief, he will sign anything they put in front of his nose.

Meanwhile I have the feeling that enemies of Pál Schmitt are busily gathering incriminating evidence from his past. At least that was my impression after reading a few blogs.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Guest

Any info on what Schmitt did between 1985 and 2000 ?
How did he manage the “revolution” of 1989 ?

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Wolfi: “Any info on what Schmitt did between 1985 and 2000 ? How did he manage the “revolution” of 1989?”
I need to do a little more research. Put it that way, he is a great shaker and a mover.

pgyzs
Guest

He served and was loyal to anyone from where he expected some advantage. That’s how. But I’m sure Eva will fill in the details soon:)

NWO
Guest

What is made absolutely clear yet again by this appointment is that Hungary is really bereft of serious statesmen who are able to represent the Country effectively, to engage in politics at the highest level, and to carry out both the political and symbolic duties of the President in a way that inspires the domestic audience and influences foreign audiences. This is true of both the left and the right [there is of course no center in Hungarian politics].
Hungary is a small and insignificant country, but even acknowledging this, it is clear that the Hungary will continue to “under perform” on the world stage.

Odin's Lost eye
Guest

He looks like a character in the old song ‘The Vicar of Bray’ the chorus of which is : –
“And this is law, I will maintain
Unto my Dying Day, Sir.
That whatsoever King may reign,
I will be the Vicar of Bray, Sir!”
He will change his opinion to suit the requirements of the All Highest of Fidesz (and Hungary). What fun! Membership of the Constitutional Court will become a ‘Sinecure’!
That is until something ‘brown’ hits the ‘fan’ in the European Court.
Bray is ‘Bray on Thames’ in Berkshire. It had several nice ‘watering holes’, One was a bit snooty and did not like my 24’ floating slum moored anyway near them on its way back up river for refitting etc over winter.

pgyzs
Guest

NWO: These are too harsh words, paradoxially Schmidt is a very good one to represent the country abroad. As it was said, he is good looking, polite with very good social senses, and of course he has a natural asslicking talent and an excellent radar to sense from where the wind blows. You’re wrong if you think that he’ll be bad regarding foreign policy.
The problem with him starts when we consider domestic policy. He’s a Fidesz droid, like Gasparovic was to Fico. It is possible that he will be just like Göncz or Mádl, but then it is the protocol position I’ve never seen making any sense, a robot could easily do the task.
You don’t have to like Sólyom, especially the Gyurcsány group hated him (same people who now that he’s leaving praise him) because he was not willing to support Gyurcsány’s madness especally after Öszöd, but you can’t deny that he is an autonomous president who brought some extra to the position and tried to make a difference.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

pgyzs: “You’re wrong if you think that he’ll be bad regarding foreign policy. The problem with him starts when we consider domestic policy. He’s a Fidesz droid, like Gasparovic was to Fico.”
Exactly! He will be most likely better abroad than the stiff Sólyom.
As for the same people who hated Sólyom but now are singing his praises, I agree with pgyzs on that score also. Rather sickening. Let’s face it, Sólyom was not really the best man for the job.

latefor
Guest

NYVO – “Hungary is a small and insignificant country”…well my friend, it might be small, but I would not call it insignificant.
Frankly, your comment is uncalled for and not appreciated.

pgyzs
Guest

“As for the same people who hated Sólyom but now are singing his praises, I agree with pgyzs on that score also.”
But I’m sickened from the other side. I think if honour, autonomity and legal expertise is the question, I think he is the best man from the palette right now. Perhaps some people have different ideas of what a presidential role in Hungary should be, but Sólyom clearly represented mine. He made some mistakes, but he is a president who had a character and a vision to do something and a clear standing to defend the constitutional values. Göncz, Mádl, Schmitt (although common courtesy requires to leave his evaluation open until seeing him actually in office)? I don’t think so. We remember Göncz for translating the Lord of the Rings, I don’t think we remember Mádl for anything and I think we’ll remember Schmitt for degrading the office of the president to a protocolar goverment bureu.

Odin's Lost eye
Guest

pgyzs you say ** “I think we’ll remember Schmitt for degrading the office of the president to a protocolar goverment bureu.”
I fear you are right. The presidency instead of being a protector of the constitution and peoples’ rights, it will become a rubber stamp for whim the All Highest of Fidesz (and now of Hungary)

Koksal Satir
Guest
Mr. Pal Schmit President of Hungary Ben, Koksal Satir. Turkiye Cumhurieti Devleti nde 30703538470 T.C.kimlik numarasi ile kayitli vatandasim. 11 Mayis 2001 tarihinde kurmus oldugum Varligimiz Partisi (Varlik) nin Kurucu Genel Baskaniyim. Bas sorumlusu Basbakan Recep Tayyip Erdogan olmak uzere: 1- Kurdugum partinin felsefesi, siyasi dusuncelerinden, goruslerinden oturu.Varligimiz Partisi’ nin felsefesini, yeni, kendine has bir ekol olarak kabul ettikleri icin. 2- Varligimiz Partisi nin kurucu genel baskani olarak musluman olmadigimdan dolayi. ve hiristiyanligi kabul ettigimden oturu. Varligimiz Partisi’ nin felsefesini, yeni bir ekol olarak kabul ettikleri icin. Bu ekolun felsefesinin kurucusu olarak, benim musluman olmayisimdan oturu. Bes yildirda hiristiyanligi kabul ettigim icin. 3- Etnik nedenlerden oturu, 4- Bu nedenlere bagli olarak, Turkiye aleyhine, benim ajan casus oldugum ve vatan haini oldugum iftiralari, yalanlar, uydurmalari ile: Partiyi kurdugumdan. hele hele 2003 yilindan bu yana bas sorumlusu Basbakan olmak uzere; Beni oldurmek, katletmek icin, deafalarca girisimde bulundular. Her turlu psikolojik, fizyolojik, fiziksel iskenceleri defalarca yaptilar. Ben, simdi kactim geldim, Serbia Cumhuriyeti Devleti nin baskenti Belgrad a. Serbia Cumhuriyeti Devletine siginmak ve oglum Ugur Kartal Satir ve Kizim Esra Nur Satir inda Turkiye den alinarak ilticalarimizin gerceklestirilmesi icin (mazlum otobiyografim)dilekcemi hazirladim, ve Sayin Serbia Cumhuriyeti Devleti Basbakanligina sundum. Bu dilekcemden (mazlum otobiyografim) bir… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Koksal Satir: Our Turkish leaves something to be desired. Try it in English

Member

Ide figyelj, Szatír! Sajnos nem beszélünk törökül.

wpDiscuz