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Hungary elects first female president

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Hungary has elected her first ever female President, Katalin Novak. A close ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, says her emergence is a victory for women.

Novak, most recently served as a minister for family policy was elected into the mostly ceremonial role by 137 votes to 51, emerging winner in the parliament dominated by Orban’s right-wing Fidesz party, ahead of opposition challenger, Peter Rona, an economist.

“We women rear children, care for the ill, cook, are in two places at the same time if needs be, earn money, teach, win Nobel prizes, clean windows,” Novak said in a speech before the vote.

The 44-year-old Hungary’s youngest-ever head of state said:
“We know the power of words but can keep quiet and listen if we have to, and defend our families with a courage beyond that of men if danger threatens.

“It is because I am a woman, and not despite of it, that I want to be a good president of Hungary,” she said.

Earlier, she posted a photo of herself, her husband and her three children on social media, saying it “means a lot to me that my family is here with me”.

Novak has been the face of government policies including generous tax breaks and handouts designed to encourage young families to have more children.

She succeeds Janos Ader, a co-founder of Orban’s governing right-wing Fidesz party, who has held the job since 2012. She will take office after Ader’s term expires May 10.

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