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Orbán names members of new government

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The roll-call of new members of the fourth government to be formed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán - and third in succession - has been finalized, online news portal index.hu reported Friday afternoon, citing Orbánʼs press chief Bertalan Havasi. Hungaryʼs new government will take shape in the weeks following the opening session of Parliament, set for May 8.

As signalled by the prime minister last week, Minister for National Economy Mihály Varga remains a key core member of the government, as does Péter Szijjártó at the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Minister of Justice László Trócsányi likewise survives the latest government reshuffle.

Of others who retain their positions in government, Minister of the Interior Sándor Pintér begins his third straight term in the job, while another stalwart of Orbánʼs team, the Christian Democrat (KDNP) leader Zsolt Semjén, is set to remain as deputy prime minister.  

Antal Rogán, described by index.hu as Orbánʼs "right-hand man," will continue to head the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister. János Süli, minister without portfolio for the expansion of the Paks Nuclear Power Plant, also remains in the cabinet.

Among the new faces is Miklós Kásler, the director of the National Institute of Oncology (OOI), who takes over from the departing Zoltán Balog at the head of the Ministry of Human Capacities, the superministry overseeing health and education.

Current affairs news portal hvg.hu reported Thursday that the Széchenyi Prize-winning professor is known for his controversial views, claiming - among other things - that Einsteinʼs theory of relativity has been disproven, and that 70-80% of deadly diseases could be avoided by obeying the Ten Commandments.

Some of the tasks of the Ministry of National Development, which is eliminated in the government reshuffle, will be taken over by Andrea Bártfai-Mager as minister without portfolio for the management of national assets. Bártfai-Mager has been government commissioner for postal affairs and national financial services since 2016.

Departing after two government terms at the head of the former Ministry of Rural Development, then Ministry of Agriculture, is Sándor Fazekas, to be replaced by István Nagy. 

Gergely Gulyás takes the place of János Lázár in charge of the Prime Ministerʼs Office.  As reported a week ago, Lázár leaves the government to return to local politics in his constituency in Hódmezővásárhely.

In what index.hu describes as a surprising appointment, Colonel-General Tibor Benkő, chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Hungary, takes over from István Simicskó as head of the Ministry of Defence. The portal notes that this is the first time an active professional soldier has led the ministry in Hungary since the communist era of János Kádár.  

Another new face in the government is László Palkovics, who will be minister for innovation and technology, having served as state secretary for education at the Ministry of Human Capacities for the past two years.

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