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Novak: Birth of Hungary’s first female president

  In March, Katalin Novak, who will turn 45, became Hungary’s first female president. For many years, Novak has been “families and careers with both hands”: he entered the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the age of 24, became a full-time housewife at the age of 26, returned to the workplace after giving birth to three children, and became the president in just 12 years.
  After she won the election, Hungarian female painter Marias sent her a meaningful painting on social platforms. In the painting, Novak has both Mickey Mouse and the Big Bad Wolf beside him. He seems to want to say: This female president will face a complicated situation, and the real challenge has just begun.
“Mother of Three” Promotion

  Novak was born in Szeged, Hungary in 1977 to both doctors. Years later, her brother also became a doctor. Although Novak did not study medicine, he was also very good. In addition to her native Hungarian, she speaks English, French, German, and simple Spanish. In college, she met her “true son” Istvan Veres, who has been very supportive of her studies and career.
  In 2001, Novak joined the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After about 2 years, she decided to leave. According to “Hungary Today”, Novak has been “bringing children at home” in the years since he bid farewell to politics. She gave birth to a child in 2004, a second child in 2006, and a third child in 2008.
  Despite this, Novak did not stop the pace of “enriching himself”. She took time away from her studies to get a degree in economics from the University of Budapest in 2011, followed by a law degree from the University of Szeged and the University of Paris X.
  Novak returned to politics in 2010. Because of her outstanding performance in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier, she attracted the attention of the then Minister of Foreign Affairs Martoni, so she was appointed as the Minister’s adviser upon her return.
  After that, Novak’s political career was smooth sailing. In 2012, she was appointed Cabinet Minister in the Ministry of Human Resources; in 2014, she was Secretary of State for Family and Youth; in 2018, she became a Member of Parliament, and in 2020, she became the Minister of Family Affairs of Hungary. She also served as the vice-chairman of Fidesz from 2017 to 2021, becoming one of the few women in Hungarian politics at the time to hold a senior position.
  According to a 2021 survey, Novak is ranked third in Hungary’s most popular politician. The first is Viktor Orban, who has served as Prime Minister of Hungary for more than 10 years. In the selection of the most influential women of Hungarian public figures, she ranked first in both 2020 and 2021.
  Behind these honors are Novak’s efforts to improve the lives of Hungarian women over the years.
“Women’s Triumph”

  In 2018, according to the “Global Gender Gap Report” released by the “World Economic Forum”, Hungary was the country with the worst gender equality in Europe. At the same time, Hungary has been plagued by population problems for a long time, and its population growth has been negative for many years.
  The Hungarian government encourages people to have children. Novak, based on his own experience, believes that the first task is to give mothers more choices. She once wrote on her personal website: “As a ‘three-child mother’, I know that while working, I also have to deal with housework and raise several children. These seemingly ordinary tasks are actually very difficult.
  ” The first task of the Minister of Family Affairs is to give mothers the freedom to choose when to return to work, and to provide real help to young Hungarians and their family life.” Novak believes that to do all this, The government must provide corresponding welfare policies.

  Under her promotion, the Hungarian government has launched a series of welfare policies to encourage childbirth and reduce childcare costs, such as preferential loans for house purchases, house decoration subsidies, and personal income tax relief. Through efforts, Hungary’s fertility rate has risen from 1.23% in 2011 to 1.56% in 2021, becoming the country with the largest increase in the EU.
  Novak also actively defends the rights of Hungarian women. She both encourages women to have children and supports women to progress in their careers. Thanks to her tireless efforts, in 2021 Hungary will have the second highest employment rate among EU countries for women.
  Hungary took the lead in approving the use of Chinese vaccines within the EU because of its active anti-epidemic cooperation with China, and opposed the so-called “Hong Kong-related statement” issued by the EU, which was discredited by politicians in some European countries. Of course, Novak, who was born in diplomacy, couldn’t bear it, and angered that politicians in those countries were “seriously wrong”. She bluntly said that the media can easily become a weapon for politicians to criticize, and Hungary’s position has remained unchanged from beginning to end.
  In March and April 2022, the Hungarian opposition coalition used the conflict between Russia and Ukraine to sow popular sentiment. Novak took another stand: the Hungarians wanted peace, not war.
  “We know the power of words, but we can be quiet and listen when we need to. When faced with danger, we women will defend our families with more courage than men,” Novak said. Because I want to be a good Hungarian president, and because I am a woman.”
  Even those who compete with Novak, such as the leader of the opposition coalition, Marki Zai, cannot deny her achievements, only Citing her party affiliation, she called her “unfit” for the presidency.
  But in the end, Novak won 137 of the 188 valid votes in the parliamentary election and was successfully elected as the next Hungarian president by virtue of his reputation and popularity over the years. Novak described his victory as “a victory for women”.
Challenges ahead

  Novak officially took office on May 10, 2022, for a five-year term.
  However, Novak, who was successfully elected president, was not busy celebrating. The division between Novak’s Fidesz and the opposition coalition has long existed.
  The core leader of the FYD is Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Under Orban’s leadership, the Hungarian government implements a “looking east” and a friendly foreign policy toward China. Hungary is the first European country to sign the “Belt and Road” memorandum of understanding with China, the first Central and Eastern European country to set up a RMB clearing bank, and the first European country to open a bilingual Hungarian and Chinese language teaching school.
  For Novak and the Fidesz, which is behind her, to maintain the existing political achievements, it is crucial for the Fidesz to maintain its position in the parliament.
  In addition to competing with the opposition alliance for the right to speak, the challenges facing the FYDF are not small. Hungarian media said in March this year that more than 200,000 Ukrainian refugees have come to Hungary due to the border between Hungary and Ukraine.
  In addition, affected by the Russian-Ukrainian incident, Hungary’s currency, the forint, began to depreciate sharply. Some professionals believe that the forint may continue to fall due to Hungary’s proximity to conflict areas and its high dependence on Russian energy. Under this circumstance, in March this year, the opposition coalition took the opportunity to attack Orban, and also encouraged some people who were dissatisfied with Orban’s policies to hold demonstrations.
  But it is conceivable that no matter how the political situation changes, Novak must maintain a balance among various issues like in the cartoon drawn by Marias, in order to continue to contribute to the development of Hungary.

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