Peter Magyar, the former spouse of a key politician in the governing party, has held various high-profile positions within the Hungarian government.
He served as an EU specialist diplomat for the Prime Ministry, the Ministry of National Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was also the head of the Student Loan Center, a board member of both Magyar Közút and Volánbusz, and a supervisory board member at MBH Bank. According to rumors, political directives had prevented him and his wife from divorcing before the 2022 elections.
The granting of a presidential pardon to one of the individuals involved in a pedophile scandal at a child care institution in Bicske, Endre K., by President Katalin Novák, caused significant uproar even among the ranks of the governing parties. Our article series will follow the developments of this scandal closely.
Declaring his resignation from his positions in two state-owned companies and his supervisory board membership in the partially state-owned MBH Bank Plc, Peter Magyar made it clear he no longer wishes to be part of a system where, as he suggests, the actual culprits hide behind women's skirts, and individuals like Tony, Adam, and Barbara can freely snicker while sacrificing those who, unlike themselves, worked for the interests of their country and fellow citizens, not their own financial gain.
In his statement, Magyar implies that the real responsibility for the pardon controversy does not lie with Novák Katalin and Varga Judit, although he does not name who the real culprits might be. He explicitly identifies only Antal Rogán, the head of the Prime Minister's Cabinet Office.
Despite having no formal or theoretical involvement in the decisions of presidential pardons, as the overseer of the party-state-government's communication and propaganda, Rogán likely plays a crucial perhaps the most crucial role in managing the party’s response to the scandal. Even with minimal knowledge of the system's workings, one can speculate whether the resignations of Novák and Varga were truly their own decisions.
It is known that Fidesz has been closely monitoring public opinion on this issue, with survey results undoubtedly contributing to their crisis management strategy.
Peter Magyar shared his opinion for the first time in a comment below a Facebook
post following the scandal's outbreak. On Thursday, he wrote that "a bad decision was made, and likely, several people made mistakes." It was unclear whether the "several" included his then-wife, who led the Ministry of Justice when the pardon request was evaluated.
THE SCANDAL THAT CONFIRMED FIDESZ CARES ABOUT NOTHING BUT POWER
Some issues so clearly require immediate decisions that adhere to the moral standards and attitudes of society. While a plagiarism case involving an Olympian's diploma might be debatable, granting a pardon to someone involved in covering up a pedophilia case is unquestionably wrong. That Fidesz weighed the knowledge and opinions about the politicians involved in such a scandal, attempting to extricate itself from the situation, is disheartening.
"A MINUTE LONGER" - AFTER ONE AND A HALF DECADES
Magyar's post suggests that the presidential pardon scandal was the final straw for him, despite signs of disillusionment over a considerable time. "I believed in the idea of a national, sovereign, civic Hungary for a long time and tried to contribute to its realization with my modest means. Over recent years, it slowly dawned on me that it is merely a political product, a facade meant only to obscure the workings of the power factory and amass vast fortunes."
Magyar's admission reflects a rather naive viewpoint.
As an important cadre on his own and as the spouse of one of Fidesz's most prominent politicians, it's surprising if he has only recently realized that the "national, sovereign, civic" Hungary is merely a political product.
When asked in spring 2023 why he was fitting to hold a position on the board of the state-owned Volánbusz, Magyar referred to his nearly eight years of experience in transportation policy at Hungary's EU Embassy. He worked as a transportation policy diplomat during Hungary's EU presidency, then as a diplomat for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and finally, the Prime Minister's Office, where he was involved, among others, in monitoring EU and, consequently, domestic transportation legislation, and representing the Hungarian government's stance on these issues. He has also been on the board of Magyar Közút Zrt. for about eight months.
In 2019, before the municipal elections, Magyar ran for mayor in Balatonhenye, where he and his partner had previously purchased a holiday home.
Peter Magyar had been the managing director of the Student Loan Center from 2018 until he left the position on his own initiative in February 2022.
SCANDALS FROM THE INSIDE
As the husband of Varga Judit, Peter Magyar witnessed several minor scandals from within the party-state-government mechanism and undoubtedly has personal experience with its scandal management.
In 2021, the couple bought properties in the XII district of Budapest for a total of 200 million forints. According to the Ministry of Justice at the time, the properties, though listed under five different identifiers, were actually part of one condominium, intended to be merged later. The Blikk reported that of the purchase price, only eight million forints were paid upfront, with the remaining 192 million forints covered by a bank loan.
However, this property purchase was not included in Varga's asset declaration in January 2020. The Ministry explained that the bank transferred the remaining sum to the seller only on February 19, 2020, after completing the necessary credit assessment and signing the loan agreements; subsequently, the deed of ownership was submitted to the competent Land Registry and as per the laws registered retroactively to the date of sale.
In 2021, it was revealed that Varga and her husband had received family home creation benefits (CSOK) for their Balatonhenye property in 2017. However, according to CSOK rules, the benefit cannot apply to holiday homes or properties where the beneficiary and their family do not live permanently for at least ten years.
The couple claimed it was indeed a residential house, but they could not move in as quickly as originally planned because they both found jobs in Budapest (where they also bought a property worth 200 million forints). After the controversy surfaced, Varga said they had requested a five-year moratorium on moving in and repaid the CSOK at the beginning of 2023.
Magyar, who is active on social media, lamented on Instagram, "Today I said farewell to Balatonhenye and to the house into which I had poured my heart and soul, and where I can now only return as a guest."
DIVORCE BY COMMAND
Concerning how exposed the party's cadre and politicians are to communication machine orders, Magyar announced their divorce in March 2023 on Facebook
, through a post that was initially public and then made private. Rumors about their divorce had already surfaced in 2021, which the Minister of Justice strongly denied. She declared that the press had launched a "coordinated attack" against her family.
After announcing their separation, the Blikk, citing government-related sources, claimed they had wanted to divorce already in 2021 but were advised from "political circles" that announcing the divorce before the elections would be inopportune.