A Third Political Ally of Hungary’s Prime Minister Is Forced to Resign

A snowballing scandal in Hungary over the pardoning of a man convicted of covering up pedophilia in a children’s home forced the third resignation in a week on Friday of an important political ally of the country’s authoritarian prime minister, Viktor Orban.

The departure of Zoltan Balog, a former government minister, from the leadership of the Hungarian Reformed Church followed the resignations last weekend of Hungary’s president, Katalin Novak, and Judit Varga, a former Justice minister and a leading figure in Fidesz, Mr. Orban’s conservative governing party.

All three have been at the forefront of Mr. Orban’s efforts to present Hungary as a bastion of family values, committed to fending off what Fidesz reviles as “woke globalists” intent on undermining Christianity and Hungarian sovereignty through L.G.B.T.Q. “propaganda” imported from the outside.

Hungary’s carefully nurtured image as a safe zone for traditional values, however, suffered a damaging blow this month from revelations that a man who was pardoned last year had been convicted of covering up sexual abuse by the director of a state-run children’s home in Bicske, near Mr. Orban’s home village. The crime for which the man was convicted was not made public at the time of his pardon.

Mr. Orban’s party, which has won four elections in a row, does not face another general election in Hungary until 2026, and so it is securely in power. But the scandal has severely embarrassed the government — and invigorated the prime minister’s opponents — ahead of June elections for the European Parliament, which Mr. Orban had hoped would help establish him as the leader of a pan-European conservative movement. Ms. Varga, the former Justice minister, had, before her resignation, been designated by Fidesz to lead its campaign for the European elections.

That a man convicted of pressuring victims to retract complaints of sexual abuse had been pardoned stirred widespread outrage, including among supporters of Fidesz.

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