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Hungary’s President Pál Schmitt resigns

As a result of the plagiarism scandal around his doctoral thesis, Pál Schmitt announced his resignation as President of Hungary on Monday afternoon.

Hungarian President Pál Schmitt dramatically announced his resignation at the end of an unscheduled speech in Parliament on Monday (April 2). “The President represents the unity of the country. For me, this means that my duty in the current situation is to terminate my service and resign,” he said.

Schmitt’s appearance came after the senate of Semmelweis University stripped him of his doctoral title last Thursday (March 29) stating that more than 90% of the work was copied from other authors without proper quotes or referencing.

However, on Friday in an interview with public television m1, a defiant Schmitt had said that he would not resign and described his thesis as an “honest” and “useful” piece of work. He added that “There is no link in my view” between the presidency and the loss his doctorate.

Yet it seemed that his clear conscience failed to convince the nation. Even during the screening of his Friday television interview, hundreds of protesters were outside the presidential residency demanding Schmitt’s resignation, with another protest held in downtown Budapest on Saturday. During the weekend even right-wing newspapers such as daily Magyar Nemzet and weekly Heti Válasz published editorial articles in which they called upon Schmitt to go, alluding to the credibility of the leadership of the country, as well as to Hungary’s international interests.

According to online news portal Index, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán left a Fidesz fraction meeting – called to discuss the position of the president – on Monday morning to meet with Schmitt immediately. The president's office did not confirm this.

Pál Schmitt was elected in 2010 for a five-year term.